Reading Journal 3
In the play A Raisin in the Sun, an African American family has an opportunity to have their dreams come true with the arrival of an insurance check after the death of the head of the house Walter SR. Lena Younger moved into the small apartment with Walter, Sr when she was young and ever since she has dreamed of moving into her own home. Receiving the insurance check means her dream could finally come true. The characterizations that can be made of Mama Younger, who is now head of the household, would be that she is unselfish, loving, and a strong-willed woman.
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Though Mama shows all of these characteristics her best would be how unselfish she is towards her family. Even her dream is based on wanting more for her family. She wants her own home for her family to have a better life. You can see Mama’s selflessness when she fixes Travis’ bed for him after he leaves for school. Mama asks Ruth why Travis isn’t good at making up his bed and Ruth replies, “He don’t try at all ‘cause he knows you going to come along behind him and fix everything.” (pg. 40) You can also see it when Ruth starts ironing the family’s clothes; Mama’s unselfishness tells Ruth to let her do it. “You aiming to iron all them things? Leave some for me.” (pg. 40) Though Mama is most unselfish when she tells Water Jr..,” I want you to take this money and take three thousand dollars and put it in a savings account for Beneatha’s medical schooling. The rest you put in a checking account – with your name on it.” (pg. 107) This behavior shows how much she loves and cares for her family and how she is willing to do anything she can for the good of her family.
Another characteristic of Lena would be how much she loves and cares about her family. Though she does show how much she loves her family every day it is not always in the typical affectional way. She shows her love by her actions and what she does for them. One can see this when she starts to see that she may have prevent her son from following his dream. “I ain’t got nothing, don’t own nothing, ain’t never really wanted nothing that wasn’t for you. There ain’t nothing as precious to me… There ain’t nothing worth holding onto, money, dreams, nothing else – if it means- if it means it’s going to destroy my boy.” (pg. 106). She takes a big step in showing how much she does care when she gives up her authority of the household to her son to do what’s best for the family. It is best summed up when at the end of the play Mama says that, “There is always something left to love. And if you ain’t learned that, you ain’t learned nothing.” (pg. 145)
The last characteristic to discuss is what truly holds the family together and that would be her strong-willed personality. Within the play you can see that this comes from her way of life, which is very much based in God. One can see this throughout the play as she doesn’t allow her children to use the Lord’s name in vein; one example would be when she says “If you use the Lord’s name just one more time- “(pg. 51) One antidote that she talks about was how her and Walter Sr. did all they could possibly do to get each family member to service every Sunday. Another time you can see how God-based her life is was when Beneatha states she no longer accepts the idea of there being a God; Beneatha is told to say, “In my mother’s house there is still God.” (pg. 51) However in the third act we start to question her strong willed personality. Mama is seen in a more vulnerable light after the insurance money was invested in the wrong person and is now gone. In the after aftermath of this devastation we see her walking out of her room like she is now a lost soul and she is described as if she’s trying to make sense of her former command of the world and that all of the dreaming she did of owning her own home was just a waste of time. She tells Ruth about how people used to always tell her she was too big of a dreamer. People used to say to her, “Lena Eggleston, you aim too high all the time. You needs to slow down and see life a little more like it is. Just slow down some.” (pg. 139).
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Start here You can see the wonderful characteristics of Lena by how her family loves her as they sacrifice to assist with her dream come true. This is accomplished because Walter, Jr. calls the man from the neighborhood back to talk about their home, it seems like he is going to sell the house back to the neighborhood society however he decides to use his mother’s advice, “I come from five generations of people who was slaves and sharecroppers – but ain’t nobody in my family never let nobody pay ‘em no money that was a way of telling us we wasn’t fit to walk the earth. We ain’t never been that poor. We ain’t never been that – dead inside.” (pg. 143). By following this advice from of his mother, he decides to tell the man that they were going to move into the home and live the dream of owning their own home. Thankfully Mama’s dream is only put on a hold for a short period because the way she chose to be made her a role model to her family, which helped them live a better, happier life in their new home.
- Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun.