Describe as completely as possible the character of Walter Young in Lorraine Hansberry's play, A Raisin in the Sun.What are his weaknesses? Despite these weaknesses, is he ultimately a positive...

Describe as completely as possible the character of Walter Young in Lorraine Hansberry's play, A Raisin in the Sun.

What are his weaknesses? Despite these weaknesses, is he ultimately a positive character? Why does his wife stick by him? In what sense can we see his rise from boyhood to manhood? What has kept him being a "boy" throught much of his life? What attempts does he mate to escape the role life has cast for him? Are these atttempts at escape responsible or effectual? Why or why not? Compare and contrast his development with that of characters in any two works with the Selected Poems of Langston Hughes, Our Nig or Home to Harlem.

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

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Hansberry's Walter Younger is a character that represents a unique combination of McKay's Ray and Jake.  Throughout the play, we see Walter as desiring something more than what is there and in pursuit of his dreams, wanting to leave his job or seeking to open the liquor store.  This element is reminiscent of Jake, in his desire to improve his setting.  However, the countervailing force of this dream is the despair at their lack of fruition and its accompanying despair.  Walter believes that the social order that denies him a sense of equality and independence is to blame.  This is exemplified in his belief that discriminatory elements lock him in a role, as well as the belief that even people he is supposed to trust do not support him (His friend stealing the money to open the store, his wife telling him to "eat his eggs" when he speaks of his dream, his sister's medical school expenses.)  This aspect of his character is very reminiscent of Ray, and his mistrust of society, his abilty to wander and not settle into one area, and his inability to work within social and realistic conditions, thereby running from them.  Walter is an emotional wanderer, in his own right, as we see during the play when he will not emotionally commit to the child being born, the family that is with him, or to the job that he detests. There is an implication that he wanders outside of his marriage, and this lack of emotional link is similar to Ray.  Yet, where we see change in Walter, in his standing up to Lindner and not acquiscing to the "quick buck" and the assumption of his role in the family as leader is uniquely different from both Ray and Jake.  Certainly this assumption of leadership is different than the Ray, but it might also be different than Jake, who seemed to be willing to work within the system.  Walter has evolved through the play to the point where he calls the system out, a trait that we might not have seen fully embodied by Jake.  This might be reflective of the difference between McKay's landscape of the 1920s and Hansberry's canvass of the 1960s.

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