In A Raisin in the Sun, how does discrimination impact job opportunities?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The context in which Hansberry's play operates is one where discrimination plays a role in seeking job opportunities.  Walter experiences this in his own sense of being.  He believes that discrimination has contributed to his serving as a limousine driver.  He recognizes that there is a veil preventing him from exercising a sense of economic autonomy over his  being in the world.  It is for this reason that the dream of opening a liquor store is so important.  Walter sees the chance of becoming his own boss, and holding a sense of control over his life.  In this dream, one recognizes that economic opportunities have been denied, in part, because of discrimination.  The idea of "not having to serve someone" appeals to Walter.  Seeking to overcome discrimination is a part of this reality.

At the same time, discrimination limits Ruth's capacity to hold economic autonomy over her life.  In trying to provide for her family, Ruth understands the painful condition of poverty.  Serving as a maid represents one of the few ways in which Ruth can hope to counter economic challenge.  The distinct impression is that this is one of the only jobs that Ruth is able to pursue as a woman of color in an economically challenged situation.  Discrimination has limited her options, which is why she seriously considers abortion when learning of her pregnancy.  For Ruth, discrimination is a force that has limited her own economic opportunities and those of her family. In this, her dream is also illuminated.