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A Raisin in the Sun

by Lorraine Hansberry

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Can you provide quotes from A Raisin in the Sun showing Walter's conflict with fate?

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Walter's conflict with Man vs. Society is expressed both in this quote and in the central theme of the play as Walter tries to get ahead in life but is hindered by racism.

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Here are a few quotes about Walter and his conflict with fate that come to mind.

In Act I, when Walter is frustrated that Ruth does not want to speak to Mama on his behalf about Mama giving him the money to go into business, he says:

"We one group of men tied to a race of women with small minds" (Hansberry 35).

Later, when he is even more frustrated that his famiily does not support his dream of going into business, he echoes this thought when he says,

"... Cause we all tied up in a race of people that don't know how to do nothing but moan, pray, and have babies" (87).

He feels that his family is holding him back, and that his fate as a Black man is one that is restricted and oppressive.  Later, when talking to Mama about his frustration with his job and his life in general, he says:

"Sometimes it's like I can see the future stretched out in front of me - just plain as day....  Just waiting for me - a big, looming blank space - full of nothing" (73).

It is in this same speech that he argues "money is life," shocking his mother, who has always believed freedom is life, and that life should never just be about money. 

Walter feels that his fate is sealed: he is in a dead-end job; stuck in a marriage where he argues frequently with his wife; he bickers constantly with his sister; and as a 35-year-old man, he still lives with his mother, who continues to act as head of the family.  All of this seems, to him, to be fate working against him. 

When Walter's mother finally gives him the money, life seems to look up for a while - it seems things are turning around for him.  But when Willie Harris takes off with the money, Walter again sees fate working against him, both in the form of "the Man" (or White society) and the "takers and tooken" (141).  As he says to Mama in the final act,

"Life just like it is.  Who gets and who don't get.  Mama, you know it's all divided up.  Life is.  Sure enough.  Between the takers and the 'tooken'" (141).

Walter decides he's had enough of being the "tooken," so he decides to call Mr. Lindner and "take" whatever money he can get out of him, even if it means giving up his pride and dignity.  He thinks, somehow, this is taking his fate in his own hands. 

However, with the help of Mama and Travis looking on, Walter rediscovers his pride in the closing moments of the play and refuses to take the money.  Instead, he speaks with pride about his family to Mr. Linder and tells him they are moving in - and in so doing, "comes into his manhood" (151).


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In A Raisin in the Sun, are there any quotes on Walter and his conflicts with Man vs. Society? 

It is clear that one of the central themes of this play is the way that the Younger family have to face massive barriers from society in terms of the lack of opportunity African-Americans are given. This is something that Walter struggles with particularly as he tries to get ahead in life and build a future for himself and his family. Note how he expresses this frustration about his inability to get ahead in Act I:

I was lookin' in the mirror and thinking about it... I'm thirty-five years old; I been married eleven years and I got a boy who sleeps in the living room--(Very, very quietly)--and all I got to give him is stories about how rich white people live...

Walter desperately desires to be successful and to be able to earn enough to meet his family's needs. However, because of racism, he finds that he is trapped working for white men and cannot earn enough to rent a place that is big enough for his family. His sense of frustration and impotence is heightened when he realises that Ruth is pregnant and is thinking of having an abortion because they can't afford to have another baby. This is why he desperately entertains the dream of opening a liquor store with a friend as a way of gaining independence and setting his son an example of self-made success and not letting the barriers in society constrain him. Walter therefore is a good example of the conflict between man and society, and the above quote is a useful starting point to help examine that conflict.

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