A Raisin in the Sun Analysis
In Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, an intimate look at what it means to be a man, particularly a black man, is provided to the reader through the actions of the protagonist, Walter Lee Younger. With the death of his father, Walter Sr., Walter Lee has become the man of the house; he is the primary breadwinner and, as such, takes an intrinsic responsibility for his family’s living condition. He wants the very best for his wife, son, and mother, and he struggles with how to best make this happen.
The life insurance check that is coming from his father’s death is what he believes will allow him to escape from the cycle of poverty he finds his family stuck within. The $10,000 will afford him the opportunity to open a liquor store and become wealthy; after all, a similar fate happened to a friend of a friend. His desire for entrepreneurship is reflected in his current occupation; he is a black chauffeur for a wealthy white man, and he wants the roles to be reversed. He even confides in his son, Travis, that he will one day return home from his office in his fancy car, greet his groundskeeper, and walk his wife upstairs to find Travis choosing between the nation’s best colleges.
Walter’s perpetual desire to provide the best for his family blinds him to the risks he is willing to take with their futures. When Mama gives him the balance of the money that remains after putting a down payment on a house, she implores him to put some away for his sister’s medical schooling. Walter, however, is willing to gamble with Beneatha’s money and gives it all to a friend to start the investment process; he never once considers that his “friend” might run away with it. Ultimately, Walter stands up for his family and insists they move into the home Mama has purchased. He knows it will not be easy, but he knows it is their best chance of success; as the man of the house, he will guide them toward this new opportunity and better future.