In A Raisin in the Sun, why is Mama's little plant so important to her?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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From her very first entrance in this play, Mama is a character who is linked with her plant. As she enters, she moves straight to care for it and throughout the play she continues to nurture it and to look after it. The plant operates symbolically in the play as it is a symbol of Mama's nurturting spirit and how she is trying to look after her family and make them flourish, even though the conditions for growth are less than ideal. Note what she says about the plant in Act One scene 1:

Lord, if this little plant don't get more sun than it's been getting it ain't never going to see spring again.

Mama recognises that the environment for the plant is not ideal, but she still struggles to look after it and to help it to grow. This is of course a parallel between her and her family. She sees very clearly that the cramped living accommodation they are in at the moment is not ideal, and is preventing the flourishing of her children, yet she does what she can to nurture her children and raise them up with love. The plant is also symbolic of Mama's dream of one day owning a house which will provide a healthy environment for her children, and note how Mama, at the end of the play, remembers to take her plant with her as they move, indicative of a brighter, healthier future for them all.


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