How do two characters in A Raisin in the Sun make adjustments to a negative aspect of their environment?

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The Younger family live in close quarters in an affordable, basic apartment in a poor neighborhood of Chicago. Everyone in the family copes with these problems on a daily basis. While they do not always succeed in being polite and considerate, their strong affection and belief in the importance of...

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The Younger family live in close quarters in an affordable, basic apartment in a poor neighborhood of Chicago. Everyone in the family copes with these problems on a daily basis. While they do not always succeed in being polite and considerate, their strong affection and belief in the importance of family helps everyone handle the inevitable friction in the household. Two things that help them cope are humor and music. Walter and Beneatha are both serious, goal-oriented people who need a release from their often-frustrating circumstances. The strained relationship between the older brother and younger sister especially benefits from these two outlets.

Beneatha’s favored form of humor is irony and sarcasm. She has developed the habit of teasing her brother. While this helps somewhat in deflecting his frequent criticisms, she often becomes impatient with him. This pattern of interaction is established in Act I, Scene 1, as soon as she gets up in the morning and reflects on the daily competition to access the sole bathroom that five people share. When he asks her about school—which she knows is a prelude to his complaining about the expense of her college—she replies that school is “lovely” and “biology is “the greatest,” then adds:

“I dissected something that looked just like you yesterday.”

Walter tries to make light of his complaints, which include being the only adult male among three women. While he resents their lack of support, he also jokes about it. He tells Ruth, his wife,

“We one group of men tied to a race of women with small minds!”

Later he dismisses Beneatha’s calling him “a nut,” jokingly whining about being misunderstood by her and his wife.

“The world’s most backward race of people, and that’s a fact.”

Music is combined with humor in Act II, Scene 1, when Walter and Beneatha play the LPs of Nigerian music. Beneatha has been negatively comparing her well-to-do American boyfriend with Joseph Asagai. This evaluation includes her boyfriend's dismissal of the importance of African heritage. Walter loudly proclaims his identification with Jomo Kenyatta, the liberator of Kenya, and announces his identity as the “warrior, . . . Flaming Spear.” As he gets caught up in the moment and calls out , she picks up on this name and responds with the refrains from the records, such as “Ocomocosiay, Flaming Spear!”

Hansberry invests a serious quality into this episode, rather than treating it as mere parody. The stage directions read,

…the mood shifts from pure comedy. It is the inner WALTER speaking: the Southside chauffeur has assumed an unexpected majesty….

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Lena Younger is depicted as a strong, compassionate woman, who desperately attempts to improve her family's living situation by using the insurance money to purchase a spacious home in Clybourne Park while putting some money away for Beneatha's education and Walter's business venture. Lena recognizes the importance of moving out of their tiny, outdated South Side apartment, which is much too small to accommodate their family. When Lena receives the ten thousand dollar insurance check, she attempts to improve her family's negative situation by making a down payment on a comfortable home in a white neighborhood. Lena feels that the home will provide their family with adequate living space and allow Travis to grow up in a comfortable, roomy environment. Ruth supports Lena's decision and is happy to move out of their tiny apartment. By setting money aside for Beneatha's education and investing in Walter's dream, Lena also demonstrates support for her children's dreams. Essentially, Lena makes an adjustment to her family's negative living situation by purchasing a newer home in Clybourne Park.

Walter Jr. is another character who attempts to make an adjustment to his negative environment. Once Walter receives the majority of the insurance money from his mother, he attempts to invest in a liquor business by trusting Willy with the money. Walter hopes that his investment will allow him to experience financial success and improve his family's standard of living. Tragically, Walter's business partner is a thief, who runs away with the money, leaving the Younger family broke. At the end of the play, Walter once again makes a significant adjustment to improve his family's negative environment by refusing to sell Lena's home to Mr. Lindner. Walter demonstrates integrity, courage, and resolve by refusing to sign Mr. Lindner's contract, which makes his family proud. Walter's adjustment to his negative environment is using the insurance money to invest in his liquor business, which never comes to fruition.

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A Raisin in the Sun is a play by Lorraine Hansberry, set in 1950s Chicago. Hansberry shows major change in many characters throughout this play.

One of these characters is Walter. He is Mama's son, Ruth's husband, Beneatha's brother, and Travis' father. Walter is constantly trying to make a better life for his family, but often attempts dangerous or unstable ways of doing so. He is aggressive and argumentative with his family, and thinks he can solve everyone's problems with money rather than family unity. Later in the novel, Walter finally begins to listen to his family. He chooses to follow their dreams and purchase a house rather than take easy money from Mr. Lindner and not be able to buy the house.

Walter's sister Beneatha also experiences major changes through the course of the play. She is in college pursuing a medicine degree. She is ambitious and flirtatious, dating two men during the play. One is poor and caring, the other is rich and aloof. She realizes through dating these two men that she is proud of her heritage and does not want to hide it. She also realizes that her family is much more important to her than she thought, and becomes closer with her brother as a result.

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In Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, the Younger family lives in a rundown tenement home on the South Side of Chicago. But Mama puts life into this apartment with a plant, and young Beneathea Younger escapes the negative aspects of her home when she is a girl by buying clothing and equipment that demonstrates her hopes, and later by acquiring an education.

  • Lena Younger

The Younger family has clearly had to accommodate themselves to the fact that too many people are in too small a home. In the one small window that the tenement apartment possesses, Lena Younger, the matriarch of the family, places "a feeble little plant growing doggedly in a small pot." This is all that she possesses to remind her of her dream of owning a home with a garden in the back of the house.

  • Beneatha Younger

Beneatha has dreams of becoming someone with a name; she plans to go to medical school. Throughout her life Beneatha has had dreams. She possesses a horseback-riding outfit, a guitar, camera equipment, and other things. She has also been in a drama club.

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