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Notes on A Raisin in the Sun Themes

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A Raisin in the Sun Topic Tracking: Family

Family 1: Although Ruth and Travis seem to have an intimate mother-son relationship, Walter Lee has his own private relationship with his son. Travis unintentionally plays one parent against the other in order to get what he wants, as do most young children his age. Walter Lee plays into this world and acts like the 'good parent' by giving Travis the money he needs for school, even though the family does not have it to give.


Family 2: Walter Lee likes to blame his so-called failure in life on both the color of his skin and his unsupportive family. He believes that his wife and mother do not give him any credit or support, and that they are holding him back. Ruth knows that the only thing holding him back is himself - not his family.

Family 3: Beneatha and Walter Lee fight over the check with pure sibling rivalry. Bennie knows that the money belongs to Mama and thinks she should decide where the money goes, while Walter Lee obsesses over his selfish idea of a liquor store. The reality of the situation is that the money represents family - their father - and belongs only to Mama.

Family 4: Mama recalls her late husband's words and integrity. He would talk about dreams and living them for and through children. Family was the most important thing to him, and she hoped it would be for her children, as well.

Family 5: Bennie and Mama discuss Ruth's physical condition and allude to a possible pregnancy. Mama knows that she has never been wrong before about such behavior and realizes that her family may be expanding.

Family 6: The family mentioned in this section has a double meaning. Asagai represents the African family as a whole. As a Nigerian, he is different; yet, as a Negro, he is the same. Asagai and The Youngers all come from the same African family roots.

Family 7: Ruth reveals her pregnancy and possible option for abortion. Mama is appalled that her son would allow his wife to terminate a life. She lectures him that her family is about love and giving children life - not taking life away. While the Younger family appears to possibly be increasing, it also seems to be falling apart.

Family 8: Walter Lee tells Mama that he acts like a child because she seizes all the responsibility. She never allows him to be a man and to be the head of the household. He wants to be in charge of the family, but needs the opportunity to illustrate his responsibility and strength.

Family 9: Mama remembers her late husband's hard work and love. He did everything for his family, for his children, so that they could have a better life. She remembers him fondly as she realizes that the insurance check - the money given to her because of his death - is gone.

Family 10: Asagai proposes to Beneatha in an African tradition mixed with modernity. Because of the chaos and events of the day, Beneatha does not know how to respond. She already feels the familial African bond with Asagai, but whether she wants to become his true family - his wife - is another question.

Family 11: After Walter Lee sinks low enough to beg Lindner for money in exchange for his dignity, Bennie, Ruth, and Mama are shocked. They do not know how to react to his words and actions. However, Mama tells them, again, that family is the most important thing in the world, and no matter what the events, they must always love one another. Family is needed the most when people are down.

Family 12: As the play concludes, Walter Lee grows into a mature man by telling Lindner that the Youngers will still move to Clybourne Park. Ruth and Mama feel the family bond stronger than ever as they move out of the old living room and into the new home. They are together - a family.

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