In A Raisin In the Sun, which of Walter's traits contribute to the message of the play?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Of the traits the develop the most throughout the play, I would say that Hansberry's construction of Walter as a family man is what develops with the most vigor.  In comparison to Walter at the start of the play to how he is at the end of it, it is evident that he becomes a stronger family man.  Walter seems to treat his family as a source of weight and burden at the outset of the drama.  There is little that indicates he understands his role as the head of the family.  However, his rejection of Lindner's money and his embrace of the possibility of a better life for his family is a critical change in how he was at the start of the play to how he is at the end of it.  Walter sacrifices his own desires and his own self- centered notion of the good in order to become the family man that his wife envisions and his mother hopes him to be.  It is this critical evolution in which Hansberry's theme that one does not have to be locked into a role by their social condition resonates the strongly.  To quote the great Lena Horne, "It is not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it."  Walter's change throughout the play is a representation of this idea.

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