A Raisin in the Sun Money Significance: Chasing Dreams and Unraveling Conflicts
How it works
The Younger family from the play A Raisin in The Sun is one of the most well-told stories of a struggling family. The playwright, Lorraine Hansberry, took inspiration from two of Langston Hughes’ most famous poems, both of which address issues of poverty. While she considered using ‘Mother to Son’, about the understanding of the defiance of not giving up, she preferred the poem ‘Harlem,’ with its underlying message about the outcome of a deferred dream. Both Langston Hughes’s poems can be related back to the struggle of chasing the “American dream.
Walter Lee’s Dream and the Deferred Dream
In one of the very first scenes of the play, the playwright shows how Walter Lee has a dream that he wants dreadfully and is willing to take money from his mother to get it. The scene he is telling his wife about the importance of money, I believe, relates back to the meaning of the poem “Harlem” The whole poem is about a dream deferred. One of the lines in the poem asks if it festers like a sore in a very powerful scene when Lena (Walters’s mother) gets the money. Walter leaves the house after the conversation, not going his way.
WALTER, you ain’t looked at it, and you don’t aim to have to speak on that again? You ain’t even looked at it, and you have decided-(crumpling his paper) well, you tell that to my boy tonight when you put him to sleep on the living-room couch. . .
Conflicting Dreams and Moral Standpoints
“RUTH, Where are you going?”
“WALTER, I’m going out!”
Between all the characters, there is one thing keeping their storylines tied together Lena’s money and Walter’s dream with the money is to open a liquor store. This, however, creates a conflict between him and his mother, going against her morals.
MAMA, if you a son of mine, tell her! (WALTER picks up his keys and his coat and walks out. (She continues bitterly) You. . . you are a disgrace to your father’s memory. Somebody get me my hat!
This is a very moving scene, with the two characters not being able to see eye to eye because of Lakoff’s understanding of the other’s needs. In one of the lines, Harlem, it asks if the dream runs of Walter is nitrosoureas for running from problems, and in this scene, we also can take a closer look at Mama and her need to tell her son what is right and wrong a lot like the poem mother to son.
Interpretation and Relatability
As we can see, the play A Raisin in The Sun is very impacted and moving with the use of the two poems, Mother to Son and Harlem, but only Harlem is credited at the beginning of the play. One of the things about A Raisin In The Sun is that it’s very relatable for all ages. Someone in their late 30s might find they see more of themselves in Walter or Ruth, but someone who’s older might see Lena as a more relatable character. I think for this very reason; the playwright leaned more toward the poem Harlem because their play is not just about the relationship between Lena and Walter but also the other members of the family. The poem Harlem is a good poem to describe the play. Mother to son is more, looking at just Lena and Walter.
- Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. [Charles Scribner’s Sons], .