Faith in Dreams
Lorraine Hansberrys, A Raisin in the Sun demonstrates symbolism that is apparent throughout the play through her dedication to her plant in comparison with her family. The story portrays the harsh times and lives of African Americans in the 1950s. The Younger family living in Chicagos Southside, dealing with daily struggles like racism, poverty, and financial issues, try to remain strong and tight, thanks to Mama, Lena Younger. She would do anything to keep them together and keep their faith alive. Mamas dream is to give her family a better life and buy them their very own home with the money she receives when her husband dies. In the apartment they currently reside in, Mama has a plant that she cares for daily as if it were one of her own children. Her children become faced with their own struggles that she feels need to be taken into her own hands. Her daughter Beneatha finds herself losing religious faith and Mama will not give up on returning her to God. Ruth, Mamas daughter in law becomes pregnant and considers abortion, but Mama keeps reassuring her everything will be okay. Her son Walter has a plan to try and make the family money but as the plan falls through, Mama tries to show him they will be fine without it.
Mama keeps her plant on the windowsill of the only window in the apartment hoping for it to flourish and gain the life it needs to survive, just like her family. Her youngest child Beneatha starts to question God and is tired of hearing her whole family preach about him constantly. Mama, you dont understand. Its all a matter of ideas, and God is just one idea I dont accept. (51) She feels like her dreams of becoming a doctor will be because of her and her own achievements, not because of God. Mamas plant would not have made it this far without her nourishment, she feels Beneatha would not prosper without faith in God. Just as Mama cares for her plant and not allowing it to die, she will not let her daughters faith diminish. Now- you say after me, in my mothers house there is still God. (51) Mama will not give up on her daughters lack of faith, just as she will not give up on making her plant survive.
Walter, Mamas son is married to Ruth and they share a son named Travis. Ruth comes to find she is pregnant again and is very scared and unprepared. She begins to question if she wants to keep the baby or continue with the plan of an abortion. Mama feels strongly about keeping the baby even though it will be a tough situation for Ruth to face, it is the right thing to do. Mama tells Ruth, You hush up now, talking all that terrible stuff... Now you just relax. Thats right, just lean back and dont think bout nothing at all. (59-60) Ruth is worried about living space for a new baby, finances, and giving their son attention and love he needs. Similar to a new baby, Mama knows its hard for her plant to survive in such a small living space but with enough attention and nourishment, it will grow and her hard work and daily care will have paid off. She has managed to make this plant survive by not giving up on it and dedicating time to helping it grow and even though it doesnt have great space to survive, it does with an optimistic view and a loving hand. She believes Ruth can do the same with a new child. She encourages Ruth to keep the baby and with enough love and help everything will work itself out.
With the money they receive from his fathers death, Walter has a plan to invest the money into owning a liquor store thinking this will help the family financially. The family is always talking negatively about his plans and eventually the idea is no longer a desire of his. Mama does not like the sound of owning a liquor store because she feels there are better ways of making money than profiting off of peoples alcohol abuse. He is always talking about money and Mama wants him to know that life is not always about money. ..You aint satisfied or proud of nothing we done. I mean that you had a home; that we kept you out of trouble till you was grown; that you dont have to ride to work on the back of nobodys streetcar- you my children- but how different we done become. (74) As far as Mamas concerned, there are bigger things in life as long as you have faith and love and sometimes, you just have to deal with what you have. Mama has dreams of having her own garden for her plant to live and grow in, but since that dream is farfetched at the moment, she knows her plant will survive with or without it. She appreciates what she has and has faith that in time, her dream will come true. Mama assures Walter the family will still stand strong on their feet without the liquor store.
In conclusion, the plant that Mama never gives up on symbolizes the love for her family and that she will never give up on them or their dream of having their own home. Her dreams finally come true as she moves her family into a home they can all live in together and her hard work pays off. Taking care of that plant every day helped it to grow and move on to bigger and better things, just as her children did. Beneatha stops with the negativity, Ruth keeps the baby, Walter let things take its course, and the whole family moves forward to a better life. The Younger family shows inspiring ways of survival in such harsh conditions and in a horrible time of inequality. This play reflects life today in the issues of family situations, finances, and overall struggles we are faced with all the time and moving on positively as Mama does.