In A Raisin in the Sun, certain characters change and grow as a result of their experiences. Explain which character changes the most. Your answer needs to be supported.
Walter Lee Younger experiences the most significant change throughout the course of the play. At the beginning of the play, Walter is an exhausted, depressed dreamer, who is tired of working as a chauffeur. Walter has dreams of using his mother's insurance check to start his own liquor business to attain financial success. Walter believes that he will be able to buy happiness and thinks money will solve all of his problems.
After Lena refuses to invest in Walter's dream of owning a liquor business, Walter becomes extremely upset and loses hope. When Lena asks her son why he talks so much about money, Walter tells her,
"Because it is life, Mama!" (Hansberry, 76).
In an emotional moment, Lena discloses the fact that Ruth plans on having an abortion and begs her son to say something to stop his wife from going through with it. When Walter remains silent, Lena says,
"You . . . you are a disgrace to your father’s memory." (77)
As the play progresses, Lena ends up giving the majority of the money to her son, who ends up losing the money when one of his business partners steals it. Walter's mood changes from being depressed to excited and happy when he receives the money, to being upset and full of despair when his partner runs away with it. However, his attitude is determined by his financial situation throughout the majority of the play.
Towards the end of the play, Walter calls up Mr. Lindner and is willing sell the house Lena bought back to the white community of Clybourne Park. While Lena stands over her son's shoulders and makes Travis watch Walter sign the papers, Walter experiences a change of heart. Walter refuses to sign the deed and tells Mr. Lindner,
"And we have decided to move into our house because my father—my father—he earned it for us brick by brick. We don’t want to make no trouble for nobody or fight no causes, and we will try to be good neighbors. And that’s all we got to say about that. We don’t want your money." (147)
Walter's mindset changes from being solely focused on his financial situation to being focused on his family and his integrity. Essentially, Walter changes from a shallow, selfish man into a morally upright, selfless individual by refusing to sell Lena's house back to the white community.
Ruth changes the most throughout the course of the play. At the beginning, she is worn out and without hope. She is described as "a pretty girl...but now it is apparent that life has been little that she expected." She seems like she is on the verge of becoming old at age 30, and she and Walter, her husband, are fighting so much that she is thinking about aborting her baby. She tells Walter, "I'm sorry about this new baby, Walter." Ruth is physically and emotionally drained from working hard as a domestic and fighting with her husband.
However, when Ruth hears that Mama has bought a house in Clybourne Park, Ruth is ecstatic about the prospect of moving from their cramped, dingy apartment. She says, "I say it loud and good...HALLELUJAH! AND GOODBYE MISERY!...I DON'T EVER WANT TO SEE YOUR UGLY FACE AGAIN." Ruth senses that better days are coming for the family, and she is able to be hopeful again. She and Walter even rekindle the affection between them, and when Walter turns down the offer from white homeowners in their new neighborhood to buy the Youngers out to prevent an African American family from moving in, Ruth is proud of Walter. She says to Mama about Walter and Beneatha, "Yeah—they're something." Ruth heads to her new house with an invigorated sense of promise and hope.
The greatest amount of change is in Walter. Walter Younger is a dreamer and is very immature at the beginning of the play. Walter complains and alienates his family by his constant talk of money. He wants his mother to give him the insurance money and when he doesn't get his way he runs out and drinks and pouts. When his mother does trust him with a portion of the money, which he is supposed to deposit half of in savings, he gives it all to a friend of his to open a liquor store. His friend runs off with the money and Walter can't believe that this is happening to him. This again demonstrates his immaturity. Still his growth by the end of the novel is very evident. "By standing up to Karl Lindner when it would have been easier to accept Lindner's financial offer, Walter asserts himself forcefully into his culture—and although his choices may make his life difficult in some ways, he will not be spiritually defeated." Even his mother recognizes this growth and says to Ruth at the end of the play that "he has come into his manhood."