Abstract illustration of the houses of Clybourne Park

A Raisin in the Sun

by Lorraine Hansberry

Start Free Trial

What are some symbols in A Raisin in the Sun?

Quick answer:

Three symbols in A Raisin in the Sun are Lena’s plant, the insurance check, and the house. Lena keeps a plant alive with loving care much as she nurtures the family in less-than-ideal circumstances. The check stands not only for the money the family needs but also the decisions that Lena must make. The house is a powerful symbol of the success of the Younger family and equality in housing for African Americans.

Expert Answers

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

In addition to the previous poster who has drawn attention to the plant, you might want to think about a certain phrase that is repeated throughout the play: "eat your eggs". Bit of an odd symbol, you may be thinking, but bear with me. This phrase first occurs quite early on in the play in the form of an order from Ruth to Walter to shut him up. Walter then goes on to reinterpret the phrase to demonstrate how women impede men from accomplishing their aims - Walter claims that every time a man becomes thrilled by something, a women tries to "calm him down" by telling him to eat his eggs. Thus, thinking about the context of the play as a whole, shutting up or being stocial and eating your eggs symbolises the kind of acceptance and stoicism in response to adversity and problems that Walter and the rest of his family certainly confront in their lives. Walter of course sees Ruth (who is making his eggs) as an impediment in the way of him accomplishing his dream, and he tries to argue that she should be more encouraging. The eggs that she cooks him every day represent her somewhat robotic approach to supporting him. She does give him sustenance, but every day this is in the same, repeated fashion.

That is a major one, but you also might like to consider how Beneatha's hair becomes a symbol of her identity. Go back and read the play and consider how her hair changes in style and why. Hope this helps!

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

One of the symbols in A Raisin in the Sun is Mama's straggly plant. She wants to take this to the new house, although she plans to have a much more successful garden there, because this plant "expresses ME" Though the plant has struggled to live and seems to lack the beauty for which it would ordinarily be valued, it is significant to Mama because it has survived despite the struggle, as her family has survived.

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

What examples of symbolism do you find in the play A Raisin in the Sun?

Among the symbols that Lorraine Hansberry incorporates into A Raisin in the Sun, three important ones are the plant that Lena tends, the anticipated check for Walter, Sr.’s insurance policy, and the house that Lena decides to buy. Lena is both the head of the family, now that her husband has passed away, but an individual with her own dreams and aspirations. Her careful nurturing of the plant in some ways parallels the love with which she cares for all the family members. It is also a personal symbol that stands for her private hopes.

The check that they all await will be a physical, concrete representation of the money that Lena will receive from her husband’s insurance policy. The check is meaningful as a representation of the money but also for its connection to Lena’s difficult decisions.

The symbol of the house is important as an indication of the major changes the family will undergo through their move. It stands not only for the expanded opportunities but for the challenges they will face as the first Black family to integrate a white enclave. While the play concerns events in the lives of the Younger family, their experiences also apply more broadly to those of other African Americans in the 1950s.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on