In A Raisin in the Sun, what is Mama's dream?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Lena Younger, the matriarch of the Younger family, dreams of raising her family away from the dangerous south side of Chicago and in a safer place with more opportunities, like Clybourne Park. She also dreams of having a small garden.

Lena Younger—"Mama" to Beneatha and Walter Jr—knows that the place...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Lena Younger, the matriarch of the Younger family, dreams of raising her family away from the dangerous south side of Chicago and in a safer place with more opportunities, like Clybourne Park. She also dreams of having a small garden.

Lena Younger—"Mama" to Beneatha and Walter Jr—knows that the place where her family lives isn't good for them. There is little opportunity to help them find upward mobility. There isn't enough space for everyone; Beneatha sleeps with her mother, Walter sleeps with Ruth, and Travis, their son, sleeps on a makeshift bed in the living room. Their home is rental that's run down with barely any natural light. Everything is faded and shabby even though it's clear that Lena chose each item and placed it with care long ago.

The money from Lena's husband's life insurance is enough to make a down payment on a two-story home. Lena believes that if everyone pitches in, they'll be able to pay their mortgage and afford it. She tells Ruth that it would be nice to have a yard for Travis to play in. She tells her about her once-upon-a-time dream of purchasing a house, fixing it up, and having a small garden in the back.

According to Lena, the closest she ever got to having a garden is the potted plant she cares for. When she puts a down payment on the house at Clybourne Park, she tells them that there's enough room for a small garden.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, Mama's dream is to use the insurance money to buy a home and fulfill the lifelong dream that she had shared with her deceased husband. Unfortunately, she is at odds with the rest of her family, who all have different ideas of how the money should be used.

Mama is the matriarch of the Younger family, who are an African American family living in Chicago. They are, at the beginning of the play, eagerly awaiting the arrival of a check for $10,000, the result of Mama's late husband Mr. Younger's life insurance policy. Between a new home, investing in a liquor store, and tuition costs, each member of the family has a different priority for the use of the money, leading to the drama of the play.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Lena Younger's dream is to move her family out of their cramped South Side apartment and into a beautiful, comfortable home. Lena tells Ruth that she and her husband originally planned on living in the tiny apartment for a year before purchasing a home in Morgan Park. However, life got in the way and her dream never became a reality. Before receiving the ten-thousand-dollar insurance check, each member of the Younger family desires to use the money to fund their own specific dream. Lena's son, Walter Jr., wants to use the insurance money to invest in a liquor business while Beneatha wishes to use the money to pay for her college education. After receiving the insurance check, Lena puts a down payment on a new home in the white neighborhood of Clybourne Park and gives the rest of the money to Walter Jr. to do as he pleases after paying for some of Beneatha's education. Tragically, Walter's shady business partner runs off with the money and the Younger family's future in Clybourne Park remains uncertain. Despite their misfortune, Lena's dream of owning her own, comfortable home is realized by the end of the play.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

"A Raisin in the Sun" is a 1959 award-winning play by Lorraine Hansberry, notable for being the first play by an African-American woman to appear on Broadway.

In the play, the Younger family is about to receive a life-insurance check, and are conflicted on how to use it. The son wants to invest in a liquor store, while the daughter wants to attend medical school. The mother, Mama, wants to purchase a house:

Mama: ...I remember just as well the day me and Big Walter moved in here. Hadn't been married but two weeks and wasn't planning on living here no more than a year. (She shakes her head at the dissolved dream) We was going to set away, little by little, don't you know, and buy a little place out in Morgan Park. We had even picked out the house. (Chuckling a little) Looks right dumpy today. But Lord, child, you should know all the dreams I had 'bout buying that house and fixing it up and making me a little garden in the back (She waits and stops smiling) And didn't none of it happen.
(Hansberry, "A Raisin in the Sun," Google Books)

Mama's dream is to own a larger house for her family to live in; she understands her family's financial difficulties and wants to provide them with a comfortable space while they grow. Her dream is created from pragmatism; she wanted to save money "little by little" instead of taking a loan or mortgage. However, she recognizes that her personal dreams are not as important as her family's well-being; her "dreams" didn't happen because she spent her time helping her children and husband in their lives. She "deferred" her dreams for them.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team