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Free MonkeyNotes Summary-A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry-Notes
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THEMES

The Importance of Dreams

Because they have dreams, the Youngers rebel against the position that society has forced them into. Walter Younger is the most rebellious. He resents his impoverished life and fears that his future will be "a big looming blank space - full of nothing. . .But it don't have to be." A subservient chauffeur, he dreams of accumulating wealth and living as his employer, Mr. Arnold, does. He sees the opening of a liquor store as a way to get rich quick and convinces Mama to give him some of the insurance money for his business venture. He dreams of the day when he will make enough from his business to move the family out of the black Chicago ghetto in which they have always lived.

Where Walter is mostly a dreamer, Mama is a dreamer and a doer. Like Walter, she longs to leave the ghetto behind. When she receives the insurance check, she decides that she will use a portion of it to make a down payment on a home. She is brave enough to select one in an all-white neighborhood, even though she knows that the neighbors will not be pleased and will discriminate against them. She, however, wants her grandchildren to have a safe place to play and the opportunity for a good education.

Beneatha has her own dreams to break out of the black pattern of poverty. She is studying at a local college and acts like an intellectual. She also hopes to become a doctor. When Walter loses her portion of the insurance money, she is certain that her dreams are crushed. Asagai, her future husband, convinces her that she can still pursue a medical education on her own merit and then become a doctor in Nigeria as his wife.

At the end of the play, Hansberry proves that dreams really can come true, even for poor black people. Even though Walter's business deal falls through and Willy steals the insurance money, Walter comes into his manhood, standing up to Lindner and telling him that the Youngers will keep their house in Clybourne Park. As a result of his maturing, his marriage to Ruth is certain to improve, especially since she is delighted about moving into the new place. Mama is also ecstatic that her dream of a nice place for her family is coming to fruition. Finally, Beneatha is delighted that Asagai has asked her to be his wife and is willing to help her on her way to fulfilling her dream of being a doctor.

The Theme of Pride

Even though the Youngers are black and poor, they are proud people. The small, dingy apartment in which they live has been decorated with care, and it is spotlessly clean. Mama is proud of her Christian faith and has tried to instill her values in her children. When Beneatha uses the Lord's name in vain and questions God's existence, Mama is totally intolerant, even slapping her daughter. She constantly tries to get Walter to act like a man, reminding him of the behavior of his father, Big Walter. Most importantly, Mama has enough faith and pride to believe that she and her family can make it in an all-white neighborhood.


Mama has succeeded in instilling a sense of pride in her children. Beneatha believes in herself, working hard to become a doctor. Walter also thinks he will be able to become a successful businessman and lead the family out of their impoverished existence. Even after he has been shamed by losing the insurance money, he tells Mr. Lindner about black pride in general and Younger pride in particular. He then informs the white man they he will not allow the Clybourne Park Association to buy the new house in spite of the handsome profit they have offered. As the family gathers their belonging to move into the new neighborhood, the audience can see their pride as they leave the ghetto behind.

Lack of Communication

Throughout the play, Hansberry shows scenes where people, even inside a family, fail to communicate. Walter and Ruth are the primary example. The play opens with them arguing. Ruth claims that he never listens to her; in fact, even though she has told him so, he does not realize that Ruth is pregnant again. Walter claims that his wife never tries to understand him. To prove the point, he acts out his own mini-drama: "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 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 is getting cold!" There is also a lack of communication, or at least listening, between Mama and her children. She warns Walter not to use the insurance money on the liquor store, saying it would be un- christian. He does not heed her warning and winds up losing sixty- five hundred dollars. Beneatha also fails to listens to some of Mama's advice. She has taught her daughter all of her Christian values and still Beneatha dares to use the Lord's name in vain and question God's existence.

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