A Raisin In The SunEveryone in America wants to achieve financial success in their life in one form or another. Sometimes living in a capitalistic society entices many to become too materialistic. This is most commonly referred to as the American Dream.
For most Americans, this high status is very difficult to achieve. The play ,A Raisin in the Son,(written by Lorraine Hansberry) examines an African-American’s family’s struggle to break out of the poverty that is preventing them from achieving some sort of financial stability, or the American Dream. It focuses on Walter’s attempt in “making it,” or “being somebody.” In this play Walter has become corrupted by the more Materialistic ideals of America’s society The frustrations that Walter has to deal with affects the family a great deal.
For example, if Walter gets upset at work or has a bad day, he can’t get angry with his boss and risk loosing his job; instead he takes it out on his wife Ruth. Also, the job that he holds can only provide so much to the family. He’s not even capable of providing his son Travis with some pocket change without becoming broke himself. Walter Younger is thirty-five years old and all he is, is a limousine driver. He is unhappy with his job and he desperately seeks for an opportunity to improve his family standing.
He tells his mother how he feels about his job when she wouldn’t give him the ten thousand dollars to invest in a liquor Store,” 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; shall I take the drive, sir?” Mama, that ain’t no kind of job…
that ain’t nothing at all. Mama, I don’t know if I can make you understand.” Walter is not able to provide for his family by American standards, and as a result , his family lives in poverty. The poverty they experience is noticeable in their living arrangements.
In the very beginning of the play we see how a family of five shares a one bedroom, dilapidated apartment, on Chicago’s south side, Living on the south side of Chicago doesn’t exactly represent the American dream that Walter so desperately wants to obtain. In this part of town there are no big yards or picket fences where most white American kids have while growing up. Here, on the south side of Chicago the son Travis is only exposed to the concavity of the inner city and the milieu of the projects.The predicament that Walter finds himself in motivates him to want to invest in a liquor store in order to grasp some type of financial freedom. He doesn’t just want to have enough money to provide for his family, but he tells his mother, “I want so many things”.
He is obsessed with earning a lot of money. At the beginning of the play Walter is waiting for Mama’s check from the insurance company as if it was his own, and Beneathea has to remind Walter that, “that money belongs to Mama, Walter and if is for her to decide how she wants to spend it”. Here we see how Walter is brainwashed into America’s materialistic and greedy manner. Walter has been corrupted by society and unlike his sister Beneatha, he doesn’t even have a desire to find his identity through his African heritage.
He is searching for his identity with money. Much of Walter’s dialog is about making money or who has money. When his wife Ruth mentions that his friend “Willy Harris is a good for nothing load mouth,” Walter retorts; “…
And what do know about good for nothing loud mouth? Charlie Atkins was just a “good-for-nothing loud mouth” too, wasn’t he! When he wanted me to go in the dry-cleaning business with him. And now-he’s grossing a hundred thousand a year. A hundred thousand dollars a year! You still call him a loud mouth!” The idea of making a hundred thousand dollars is what’s most on his mind, and to Walter the liquor store is how he will achieve that.
The liquor store represents an opportunity for Walter to govern his own life, and to be the head of the household, that his Mama now seems to control. The idea of operating his own business gave him a positive outlook for the future that was more promising that his career as a limousine driver. Walter hasn’t any education or skills, and for that reason he is stuck in the same routine. He is trying to break out of this rut by trying to attain the American Dream, and in the process he adapts the values of wealthy society. He longs for the socioeconomic advantages of the affluent people and assimilates to their ideas and this is what has corrupted Walter Younger.Walter will continue to be affected by the mainstream, while trying to be something that he is not. While he searches for his hopes down dead-end roads filled with liquor and expensive risks, what will happen to him is what Langston Hughes calls a “dream deferred”.