Abstract illustration of the houses of Clybourne Park

A Raisin in the Sun

by Lorraine Hansberry

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Discuss male attitudes toward women in Raisin in the Sun.

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Walter is the major male character in the play.  We see something of his attitude toward women very early in the play when he is speaking to his wife. Walter is trying to get his wife Ruth to listen to him about his plan to use his mother’s insurance money to buy a liquor store. Ruth doesn’t particularly want to hear about it:

Ruth: Walter, leave me alone! Eat your eggs, they gonna be cold.

Walter: That’s it. There you are. Man say to his woman: I got me a dream. His woman say: Eat your eggs.

With this exchange, we see that Walter expects to be supported by his wife. Walter continues to seek Ruth’s support despite her reasonable argument that his mother’s insurance money is not his to use.

A little later, Walter is chastising his sister Beneatha for her desire to use some of their mother’s money to go to medical school:

What fool told you you had to be a doctor? If you so crazy ‘bout messing ‘round with sick people—then go be a nurse like other women—or just get married and be quiet . . . “

Clearly, Walter feels that Beneatha has overstepped her boundaries with her non-traditional desire to be a doctor. The root of his anger is the fact that she will probably get some of their mother’s money for what she wants, but he will not.

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Discuss female attitudes toward men in Raisin in the Sun.

In Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, men are seen as the head of the family, leaders that should uphold moral standards as well as provide for the family.

At one point in the play, Walter’s wife, Ruth, is apparently considering an abortion because of the family’s difficult financial situation. When Walter’s mother Lena learns of this, she voices her expectations to Walter, telling him that she is waiting for him to be a man and tell her not to do it.

Walter’s wife is a bit less supportive of his role at times. Early in the play, when Walter is trying to tell her what he wants to do with his life, her response is a simple, dismissive, “eat your eggs.” She fails to understand, throughout the play, that Walter wants more out of life than his unsatisfying job as a chauffeur.

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