In A Raisin in the Sun, explain George's reference to Prometheus. How does this fit Walter's character?

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lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

George Murchinson and Walter have just had a discussion about Walter's dream. Walter makes snide remarks to George about his white shoes and college prep style. Walter is a bitter black man who feels he has never had a break in life. Of course, Walter has just come home drinking and George is sitting on the couch waiting for his date with Beneatha.

Walter begins taking out his frustrations on George. George maintains a calm and collected attitude. After Walter has fussed and cussed and said what he wanted to say to George, he retires for the evening. After Walter is out of earshot, George says "Good night, Prometheus." Prometheus is a character who suffered much but was being punished for foing wrong:

Prometheus, the god who was punished for having brought fire to mortals, was chained to Mt. Caucasus, where his liver was torn out every day by an eagle but grew back each night. Prometheus' suffering lasted for thousands of years — until Hercules killed the eagle and freed Prometheus.

George is more or less being sarcastic and showing off his knowledge. However, Walter's character of having a fiery personality, wrong behavior and much suffering in his life is parallel the character of Prometheus.

George is pedantic, showing off his knowledge, when he says to Walter (after he is safely half-out the door), "Good night, Prometheus."

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As was mentioned in the previous post, Walter criticizes George for his attire and education before George takes Beneatha on a date. As George is leaving, he says, "Good night, Prometheus!" (Hansberry, 88). Prometheus was the god who created man and stole fire from Mt. Olympus to give to mankind. Prometheus was later punished by Zeus for giving mankind fire and was chained to Mt. Caucasus, where an eagle would eat his liver daily for eternity. However, Hercules ends up killing the eagle and freeing Prometheus from his eternal punishment.

Walter shares several similarities with Prometheus. Both characters are considered creative individuals that follow through with their unpopular plans. Both Walter and Prometheus suffer throughout their lives and are punished for the decisions they've made. Walter is a conflicted individual who becomes extremely depressed and dejected after one of his business associates steals the money that was set aside to open Walter's liquor store. Also, Walter continually drinks alcohol throughout the play, which is ruining his liver. Similarly, Prometheus's punishment is to have his liver eaten each day by Zeus's eagle. Walter and Prometheus are also both relieved of their long suffering. Hercules eventually frees Prometheus, and Walter maintains his integrity by refusing to sell the home to Mr. Lindner.