The Impact of Racism and Dreams in “A Raisin in the Sun”
Defying Racism: Youngers’ Unyielding Pursuit
Many events affect the Youngers, an African-American family in the play A Raisin in the Sun. The Youngers live in Chicago’s South Side, which contains low incoming housing. The black neighborhood is filled with crime and racial discrimination. The way the Youngers handle racism and refuse to give into the offer that Mr. Linder gives the Youngers to make them change their minds into moving into all white neighborhood shows that they never want to give up on what they want to achieve. Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun demonstrates how racism affects the Youngers’ lives.
Defiance Against Racial Housing Bias
One way racism affects the Youngers is when they try to move to an all white neighborhood. According to Hansberry, “What do you think you are going to gain by moving into a neighborhood where you just aren’t wanted and where some elements-well-people can get awful worked up when they feel that their whole way of life and everything they’ve worked for is [being] threatened” (199). Mr. Linder tries to make an excuse for the Youngers to not move into a all white neighborhood by telling them about the incidents of what happens to colored people when they try to move into a all white neighborhood (Tackach par. 7).
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Mr. Lindner ruins the fun of the Youngers moving into a new house by just trying to get them to focus on signing the agreement papers, so the Welcoming Committee can buy the house from the Youngers (McGovern par. 10). Hansberry claims, “Our association is prepared, through the collective effort of people, to buy the house from you [to] a financial gain [for] your family” (118). The Youngers are offered a cash payout to not move into the all white neighborhood. The Welcoming Committee wants to keep their community pure and not all allow any colored people into their community (Austin par. 8). Mr. Linder does not want the Youngers to move into all white neighbor by giving them money to keep them from causing a threat in the white communities of Chicago (Brantingham par. 8). The Youngers decided to reject Mr. Lindner offer of money and continued to move into their new house in the all white community.
Job Struggles, Family Dynamics, Personal Growth
Another way the Youngers’ lives are affected is their jobs. Hansberry admits, “Mama, a job? I open and close car doors all day long. I drive a man around in his limousine and [I] say, Yes, sir; no, sir; very good, sir; [where] shall [I Drive you to] sir” (75). Walter does not want to work as a chauffeur for a rich white man anymore (Alder par. 2). Walter is tired of being a chauffeur and he wants to fulfill his dream of opening up a liquor store. (Washington par. 2). Hansberry thinks, “Get on out of here or [your] going to be late” (33). Ruth is a housewife and she is frustrated about Walter’s dream and she keeps on telling Walter to go to work (Austin par. 2). Ruth wants to stop Walter from investing into his liquor store, and she wants him to be their to comfort her (Tackach par. 3). In short, Ruth wants Walter to be there for her, and she gets so frustrated about her being the one who having to tell Walter what to do and she doesn’t want Walter to go into the liquor store business at all.
Furthermore, family issues affects the Youngers by explaining what they are going through. Hansberry notes, “No–he don’t [even] try at all ‘cause he knows [your] going to come along behind him and fix everything” (43). Ruth complains about Travis not trying to make his bed correctly (Washington par. 1). Ruth does not like the way the couch is or how they are living in their apartment (Brantingham par. 1). Hansberry thinks, “No, Mama, something is happening between Walter and me. I don’t [even] know what it is– but he needs something-something I can’t give him anymore” (45). Something is wrong with Walter and Ruth’s relationship as husband and wife, but she cannot figure it out it might be the baby (Alder par. 5). She does not want to have another baby in the family, so she cannot decide what to with it (Tackach par. 2). In brief, Ruth decides to get an abortion with her baby and wants to restore her, and Walter’s relationship as a married couple by telling Mama not to let Walter open up his liquor store.
Moreover, pride affects the Youngers’ lives. Hansberry says, “(Thoughtfully, and [she thought] suddenly very far away) Ten thousand dollars–” (46). The mother of the younger family thinks if she buys a house in a nice all white neighborhood it would uplift her family and make everything better for their lives (Austin par. 1). All Mama wants is to make her family feel good about themselves and help them get over their fear of discrimination and racism and help them to focus on the ideas that are positive (McGovern par. 5). Hansberry agrees “No–it was always [about] money, Mama. We just didn’t know about it” (76). Walter thinks money only makes up life (Washington par. 3). Walter thinks about money too much it gets to the point that he starts becoming boastful about money (Brantingham par. 7). All in all, Walter soon realizes that money is not life, and he decides to fulfill his dream of being a man instead of owning a liquor store.
Dreams Shaping Youngers’ Lives
Finally, dreams affect the Younger daily lives. Hansberry states, “Yeah. You see, this liquor store we got in mind cost seventy-five thousand and we figured the initial investment on the place [will] be [about] thirty thousand, see” (36). Walter really wants to get involved into opening up his own liquor store to fulfill his dream
(Tackach par. 1). Even though Walter is really excited about fulfilling his dream, Mama does not approve of him opening a liquor store (Alder par. 2). Hansberry comments, “ Well I always wanted me a [small] garden like I used to sometimes at the back of the houses down houses” (55). Mama wants a garden and wants to buy a house in a all white neighbor (Tackach par. 5). Mama wants to move out of the apartment and buy and house and ignore the issues in the all white community (McGovern par. 14). Therefore, The Youngers moves into the new house no matter what happens to them in the the all white community.
In simpler terms, housing, family, jobs, discrimination, and dreams affect the Youngers’ lives in A Raisin in the Sun. The Youngers complain about how they live in a run down apartment in Chicago’s Southside. The Youngers struggle with family issues when Walter wants to open a liquor store. The Youngers deals with problems at their jobs because Walter hates being a chauffeur for a rich white man, and he does not want to return to his job. The Youngers embrace with discrimination by rejecting Mr. Lindner’s money offer, and they move into the new house even though the white community thinks that they are a threat. Regardless of race, the Youngers should be welcomed in Clybourne Park and treated equally because they are humans. People’s race should not play a role in fulfilling their dreams.
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- Washington, Gladys J. “A Raisin in the Sun.” Masterplots II, Revised Edition, 2008, pp.1-3.