The dream that changed the Younger family
Dreams are either pursued or forgotten in the back of your mind. In the play A Raisin in the Sun, Walter Lee Younger has a big dream he wants to follow. Walter was an African American man who lived in Chicago during the 1950’s with his wife, child, sister, and mother. They all lived in a two bedroom apartment with little space or light. They are very poor but were getting a check in the mail that will change their lives. Walter’s father died and his mother, Mama, is getting an insurance check for 10,000 dollars. Walter stopped at nothing to get that insurance money and get his American dream. Walters's pursuit for his American dream was his justification for his behavior but also his biggest flaw.
Walter wanted his life to change and he wanted it to happen soon. Walter was tired of being poor and working for other people as a chauffeur. Walters dream was to use the money to build a liquor store so he would be able to have people work for him and give his wife and son the best life possible. In Walters mind the only way he can get his dream is by getting the money from Mama's check. Mama did not want to give Walter the money because he was irresponsible and Mama wanted to buy them a house. This made Walter angry and caused him to get his wife, Ruth, involved into the mix. This caused Ruth and Walters relationship to become on edge. For instance, when Ruth was talking to Walter in Act I she asked him what kind of eggs he wanted and Walter replied, “Not scrambled” but Ruth scrambled his eggs anyways (Hansberry 26). This quote shows how they each annoyed each other and their marriage was slowly deteriorating. Walter wanted Ruth to convince Mama to give him the money for his liquor store but Ruth believed Mama deserves the money after working for years and deserves a vacation. In the text, Ruth said “You know what you should do, Miss Lena? You should take yourself a trip somewhere. To Europe or South America or someplace-” (Hansberry 43). This quote is significant because Ruth began to do what Walter asked her to do but she changed her mind and decided to contradict Walter and tell Mama to use the money for herself. Walters's constant aggression and hunger for money had ruined his relationships with the people he loved.
MAMA: Son-how come you talk so much ‘bout money?
WALTER: (With immense passion) Because it is life, Mama!
MAMA: (Quietly) Oh-(Very quietly) So now it’s life. Money is life. Once upon a time
freedom used to be life-now it’s money. I guess the world really do change…
WALTER: No-it was always money, Mama. We just didn’t know about it.
MAMA: No…something has changed...In my time we was worried about not being
lynched...and how to stay alive and still have a pinch of dignity too. (Hansberry 74)
In this quote Mama was disappointed in Walter because all he cared about was money and getting his American dream. She was disappointed because when she was growing up she was worried about staying alive and not being lynched and Walter was complaining and telling her that all he cared about was money. This made mama upset because it makes her feel that she did a bad job parenting Walter and that he is not a good person. Walters's need for his American dream has pushed his loved one away from him. Towards the end of the story, Mama was tired of hearing Walter complain to her that she gave him 6,500 dollars. 3,000 dollars of that money was for Beneatha so she could go to medical school and the rest was for him and his dream. This made Walter very excited and appreciated. He was so happy that he told his son about what their life would be like in the future.
“You wouldn’t understand yet, son, but your daddy’s gonna make a transaction...a business
transaction that’s going to change our lives...And I’ll come up the steps to the house and the
gardener will be clipping away at the hedges...Just tell me where you want to go to school
and you’ll go. Just tell me, what it is you want to be-and you’ll be it.” (Hansberry 109)
Walter is so excited and happy that he will be giving his son the best life possible. He is so happy that he will be rich with lots of money that he irresponsibly gave all of the money, including Beneatha’s, to his business partner named Willy. Walter does not know that anything is wrong until his other business partner, Bobo, comes over and tells him the bad news. “When a cat takes off with your money he don’t leave you no road maps!” (Hansberry 128). Willy took all of the 6,500 dollars and left Walter and Bobo with nothing. At this moment Walter is crushed and destroyed. He has lost all of Beneatha’s medical school money and his money as well. Walter has lost all of his money and his American Dream as well.
When somones dream is on the line or within there reach they will stop at nothing to achieve it. Walter was so close to his dream but he ruined it by being irresponsible and selfish. Walter did not just lose his dream that day but he also lost Beneatha’s dream as well. Walters's need for money and for his liquor store ruined his relationship with his whole family. His constant disrespect to Ruth and disappearance ruined there marriage. Walter’s ignorant comments and selfish acts both ruined his relationship with Mama and Beneatha. A person can dream big as they can and make as many efforts to achieve their dreams but they need to be realistic. People can’t allow there dreams to ruin their relationships or hinder their point of view. Walters's dreams got the best of him and ruined his relationships and pride. Dreams are good in a certain amount because without dreams you would not be determined or driven for anything. But too big expectations or reliance on your dreams is harmful to yourself and the people around you.