A Raisin in the Sun Character Analysis Essay
Renowned play writer Lorraine Hansberry is credited for many screenplays around the mid-ninetieth century such as, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, To Be Young, Gifted, and Black, Les Blancs, The Drinking Gourd, and What Use Are Flowers?. However, Hansberry’s most famous work, A Raisin in the Sun appeared in 1959 and went on to be the first play ever produced by a black woman on Broadway. The play is said to be based on her trials and tribulations in a predominantly white neighborhood in the 40s.
A Raisin in the Sun did not see much initial success, due mostly to an all black cast (with the exception of one), but as time grew so did the popularity of Hansberry’s work which is now an American classic. First played by Sidney Poitier, Walter Younger, a dynamic character, (meaning he goes through a change throughout a piece of literature) plays an important role in the Younger family. Full of emotions and ideas, Walter, a complex character himself, truly makes this play come alive. Walter among others in the Younger family is a huge dreamer, and he sometimes exceeds the expectations of his social group.
This also means that he has a hard time getting his ideas across, and Walter is often in conflict with the rest of the family. As early as the first Act in the play, Walter has already expressed that he’s a big dreamer. Walter has come upon yet another investment with friends Willy Harris and Bobo. This time around it’s a liquor store he wants to get involved in. He feels as if he’s missed out on a previous investment which is a now successful dry cleaning business and that this could also have great success. This ain’t no fly-by –night proposition, baby. I mean we figured it out, me and Willy and Bobo… you see, this little liquor store we got in mind cost seventy-five thousand and we figured the initial investment on the place be ‘bout thirty thousand, see. ”(P. 33 1ST paragraph Act I, Scene I). This quote shows how Walter is a big dreamer, he has a plan in his head, not knowing whether or not it will be successful. Still he is confident that he can make it work, a trait of a dreamer.
In Act two of the play as the story progresses we first meet one of Beneatha’s (Walter’s sister, also known as Bennie in the play) friend George Murchison, Walter further expresses his dreams. “Your old man is all right man… But I think he’s running out of ideas now. I’d like to talk to him. Listen, man, I got some plans that could turn this city upside down. I mean think like he does. Big. Invest big, gamble big, hell, lose big if you have to, you know what I mean. It’s hard to find a man on this whole Southside who understands my kind of thinking- you dig? (P. 84 Act II, Scene I). In the quote, Walter Lee Younger is viewed as running his ideas by George. George has an important father, which Walter wants to take advantage of. Weather George’s father is running out of great ideas or not, Walter feels as if he could be both bigger, and better, if he could be given a chance, and George’s father could be the one opportunity that could make it happen. It almost seems as if his dreams are bigger than his pride, as he hassles George to the point of almost begging about hair brain schemes that only interest him.
Lastly in the third and final act of the play the Younger family is finally moving out of the apartment in Southside Chicago, to a house in a good neighborhood with the help of a 10 thousand dollar check, which came with the death of his father. The problem is that the neighborhood they happening to be moving is a predominantly white neighborhood. A represenitive of the neighborhood, Linder, first seen in Act II, asks the Younger family not to move in, but instead sell out. Walter debates whether he should or should not sell out. And we decided to move in to our house because my father-my father-he earned it for us brick by brick. ” Here Walter puts his own personal dreams on hold to better his family. If he would have sold out the money he would have received could have helped a lot with his dreams of opening up his liquor store. Being that he didn’t it shows the growth of his maturity in the play. Unlike in this one example of Walter’s maturity when his dreams are deferred for whatever reason he feels no-one understands him, or listens to his ideas, and often becomes frustrated.
Like anyone else, when Walter feels as if he isn’t being listened to, or understood he becomes frustrated. He often takes these frustrations out on the family causing them to have a rocky relationship. In the beginning of the play when Walter first introduces the idea of the liquor store to Ruth (his wife) he finds that she’s not interested in his dreams and that’s when he starts to get upset. “Man say to his woman: I got me a dream. His woman say: eat your eggs. Man say: I got to take hold of this here world, baby! And a woman will say: Eat your eggs and go to work.
Man say: I got to change my life, I’m choking to death, baby! And his woman say your eggs are cold! ”(P. 33-34, Act I, Scene I). In this quote Walter is basically saying that nothing he says will strike a response for her, she’ll just ignore his dreams and emotions, and this clearly is frustrating him. Hansberry uses the words man and woman to express the relationship between Walter and Ruth. When Walter meets George he thinks that he could be a lot more successful if he had been given his position, (being handed everything). Therefore he’s already bitter and frustrated with him when he enters. And you-ain’t you bitter, man? Don’t you see no stars gleaming that you can’t reach out and grab? You happy? -You contented son-of-a-bitch-you happy? You got it made?… ” Here Walter is frustrated because he can’t see why George isn’t as bitter he is. He sees him as having everything he could possibly want and has everything made for him. (P. 85, Act II, Scene I). One of Peter’s last frustrations in the play happened to be when Walter has his mind set on giving Lindner a “show”. “what’s the matter with you all! I didn’t make this world! It was give to me this way!
Hell, yes, I want me some yachts someday! Yes, I want to hang some real pearl’ round my wife’s neck. Ain’t she supposed to wear no pearls?… ”(P. 143, Act III) In this quote Walter wasn’t as mad about not being able to buy his wife pearls, but more so mad that the family didn’t understand his decision about the check in order to get things like pearls. This makes him frustrated because he wants the family to see the world his way, when yet another time they prove not to. Likewise Walter’s beliefs also played an important role in character.
Just like a person’s character traits shape what kind of personality someone has, the beliefs Hansberry gave Walter shaped his behavior and his thoughts. In the first act Walter and Bennie start to argue with each other over his friends. Anybody who talks to me has got to be a good-for-nothing load mouth, he? And what you know about who is just a good-for-nothing loudmouth. ”(P. 32, Act I, Scene II Through this quote Hansberry tries to convey to the reader that Ruth doesn’t trust Walter’s friends, by making it one of Walter’s beliefs.
Sometimes during the play Walter can say a few important words that one could miss if you don’t read carefully. For example in Act II there is a quick quote that is crucial to his beliefs. “No! ‘Cause ain’t nobody with me! Not even my own mother. ”(P. 85, Act II, Scene II). This small quote tells the reader that Walter feels like the world wants him to fail, and no-one believes in him, which is not true. The last quote for Walter appears in the third act. This is again when Linder was asked to visit the Younger household. “…what I mean is that we come from people who had a lot of pride.
I mean-we are very proud people. ”(P. 148, Act III). This quote expresses how Walter felt throughout the whole play, however until the moment where he stands up to Lindner it’s not very apparent. In conclusion, Walter Lee Younger is a dynamic character. He started out just trying to make money at each turn, without caring who he hurt in the process. Toward the end of the story Walter still had some of the same traits, however he became more mature, and finally understood that yes, money is important, however it comes after family and pride.