Mama is the matriarch of the family and critics suggest she is the strongest woman in the play. Is she?

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mama certainly believes she is the head of the family,especially at the beginning of the play. When Beneatha expresses her idea that there is no God, Mama slaps Beneatha, and makes her recant her statement. This is despite the fact that Beneatha is in college and a little old to be slapped like a child. In addition, Mama refuses to listen to Walter's plan for a liquor store. He is a young man with one child and another on the way, still living with his mother and is forced to follow her rules. However, Mama begins to realize that if her children, especially Walter are ever going to grow up, they must be allowed freedom, even it it means making mistakes. So Mama gives Walter some of the insurance money to invest--and, of course, Walter looses it. Beneatha believes they should stop loving Walter, but Mama wisely says the time to love someone is when they are at their lowest. In addition, she insists Travis stay to watch Walter take Linder's offer. In stepping down as matriarch at the end of the play, she is also giving her children the wings to grow up. And ,despite his devastating loss of the money, Walter is finally able to reject Linder's offer. As Mama says at the end of the play, "He came into his manhood today." Of course, he had a little help from his mother, who took a tremendous risk on her son. But it pays off when Walter gains the courage not to sell out his identity for money.

Read the study guide:
A Raisin in the Sun

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