Discuss the plant symbolism in A Raisin in the Sun. What are some specific examples.

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lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mama Younger compares her life to the straggly plant. The plant is alive but it has faced extremely difficult growing conditions. It has trouble finding sunlight. It has weathered the storms and is hanging on, but its growth has been hindered by the rough conditions of trying to survive in the small apartment.

Mama Younger can be compared to the plant. She too has weathered the storm. She has trouble growing in the harsh conditions she has lived through. Trying to find the light of day has been a challenge. Mama Younger has lived a hard life. She lives in the crowded apartment. She struggles to make a living. She watches her son as his dream falls apart. She is worried about his negative attitude on life. Her heart breaks right along with her son's heart as his dream falls apart.

Mama Younger watches her grandson fall asleep on the sofa every night because there is not a room in the apartment for him. Mama Younger has endured the storm as Ruth and Walter grow apart. She worries about her children. She dreams right along with her children. She hopes that the insurance money will alleviate some of the financial burdens she endures. She desires to send her daughter to college to be a doctor.

All that Mama Younger can do is exist. She, like the straggly plant, barely hangs on in life. Like the plant, there is no depth for her roots. She lives a shallow existence. Mama worries that her children are becoming bitter by the harsh existence they live. She worries about their character that is being affected because of the bitter circumstances they face in life:

At this point, she recognizes that her family's enemy has been transferred from their culture to their own hearts. Mama is clearly the source of the family's strength as well as its soul.

Like the straggly plant, Mama Younger will survive. She is the backbone of the family. She holds the family together. She will make it. She will see brighter days. She will grow and bloom in a better neighborhood. The plant and Mama are survivors. They endure harsh conditions and continue to grow. When Mama Younger moves into the new neighborhood, she can spread her roots and grow. Like the straggly plant, Mama will have a new life in the new neighborhood.

Read the study guide:
A Raisin in the Sun

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