Abstract illustration of the houses of Clybourne Park

A Raisin in the Sun

by Lorraine Hansberry
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How is Willy Harris important to Walter's goals and ambition?

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Walter Jr. is a poor chauffeur, who has high dreams and aspirations of becoming financially stable and moving his family out of their small, worn-down South Side apartment. Walter Jr. continually expresses his dreams of entering the liquor business, only to be dismissed by his pessimistic wife and religious mother....

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Walter Jr. is a poor chauffeur, who has high dreams and aspirations of becoming financially stable and moving his family out of their small, worn-down South Side apartment. Walter Jr. continually expresses his dreams of entering the liquor business, only to be dismissed by his pessimistic wife and religious mother. Walter Jr. longs for someone to acknowledge his dreams and encourage him to take a chance at starting a business. Willy Harris provides Walter Jr. with that satisfaction and shares his vision of entering the liquor business. Walter Jr., Willy Harris, and Bobo plan on investing $10,000 each into a liquor business, which they hope will make them extremely wealthy men. Essentially, Willy Harris provides Walter Jr. with hope for a better future, supports his dream, and encourages him to invest his mother's money from the insurance check. Unfortunately, Willy Harris is a con artist and runs off with the money Walter Jr. gave him, leaving Walter Jr. and his entire family broke.

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Walter has goals and ambitions like anyone; however, he feels emasculated or less than a man because being black in the 1950’s has limited his opportunities to succeed.  Walter works as a chauffeur for a white man, a service job that limits his earning power and his ability to get ahead.  Walter feels stuck, and in order to feel like the man of the family, Walter thinks up “get rich quick” schemes in hopes of being his own boss.  Walter wants to provide for his family and be a role model for his young son.  Along with Willy Harris and Walter’s friend, Bobo, they learn of an opportunity to buy a liquor store. The only catch is that Walter needs $10,000 from his father’s life insurance policy to become a partner in the venture.  Mama Younger does give Walter some money, but Willy Harris runs off with it dashing Walter’s dreams to be his own man. 

Willy Harris represents another disappointment for Walter because Walter is unable to fulfill his dreams.  Willy is just another person in society who mistreats and takes advantage of Walter.  Walter can’t even count on his friends for a break, and it is extremely disappointing because all Walter wants is to feel important and powerful in his family and society. 

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