In A Raisin in the Sun, what are the dreams of each character?
Lena Younger dreams of providing her family with a comfortable, secure lifestyle. She does not have any personal dreams and simply wishes that her family is safe and content. Upon receiving the insurance money, she puts a down payment on a home in Clybourne Park. Lena would rather raise her family in a pleasant home than in a cramped, old apartment. She also selflessly gives her son the majority of the insurance money to invest in his business. She is willing to go to extreme lengths to please her family, which is why she financially supports Walter's dream.
Walter Jr. dreams of becoming a wealthy, successful business owner. Walter's dream of owning a liquor store stems from the fact that he is dissatisfied with his life. He is a marginalized African American man, who is sick of working a job that does not fulfill his ambitious personality. In an attempt to please her son, Lena gives Walter a significant portion of the insurance money to invest in his liquor business. Unfortunately, the money Walter invests into the liquor store is stolen by his business partner, Willy Harris.
Beneatha Younger dreams of using the insurance money to pay for her college education. She dreams of one day becoming a female doctor, which was an uncommon occupation for an African American woman in the 1950s. Beneatha also dreams of finding a genuine man, who supports her dreams of becoming a doctor. Despite her affinity for Joseph Asagai's authenticity, she cannot fully commit to being in a relationship with him by the end of the play.
Ruth Younger dreams of having a healthy marriage with her husband and raising her family in a comfortable, secure setting. Ruth also dreams of having an easy life, void of hard labor, and housework. Ruth struggles with her marriage throughout the play but aims to please Walter Jr., who is dissatisfied with his own life. She also supports Lena's dream of moving out of the cramped apartment to their new, spacious home in Clybourne Park. Ruth would like nothing more than to please her husband and raise Travis in a pleasant home.
The four main characters of this excellent play are Mama, Walter, Ruth and Beneatha. Each of them have a different dream for their lives, and in some cases it is clear that they have more than one dream. However, initially their dreams seem to compete against each other, as for one of them to achieve their dream would mean the death of another character's dream.
The dream of Beneatha is to study to become a doctor, whereas the dream of Walter is to set up his own liquor business with a friend so that he does not have to work serving whites and demeaning himself (as he sees it). For Ruth, her dream is to have a house which can be a home where she can bring up her family and her new baby. Lastly, for Mama, as the matriarch of the Younger family, her dream is above all to be able to create a home that would be nurturing for her family rather than restrictive and unhealthy. Note the way that this is symbolised by her attentive care of her potted plant. This is made clear from her very first entrance into the play:
She crosses through the room, goes to the window, opens it, and brings in a feeble little plant growing doggedly in a small pot on the windowsill. She feel sthe dirt and puts it back out.
The plant can be seen as a symbol of the Younger family that is determined to grow "doggedly," in spite of the unsalubrious conditions it is forced to grow in. In the same way, Mama's care of this plant shows her dream of being able to find an environment where her family can truly flourish.