A Raisin in the Sun Questions and Answers
by Lorraine Hansberry

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In A Raisin in the Sun why was Mama getting a check for 10,000?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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At the beginning of the play, Lena Younger and her family anxiously wait to receive a ten thousand dollar check from her husband's life insurance payout. Lena's husband, Walter Sr., has recently passed away and leaves his family ten thousand dollars from his life insurance policy. Each member of the Younger family has their own ideas of using the ten thousand dollars to attain their personal dreams. Walter Jr. wishes to use the life insurance check to invest in his liquor business, while Beneatha wishes to use the money to pay her college tuition. Both Lena and Ruth wish to use the money to move out of their cramped South Side apartment and buy a new, comfortable home for the family. Lena ends up placing a thirty-five hundred dollar down payment on a home in Clybourne Park and gives the remaining sixty-five hundred dollars to her son to invest in his business and help pay for Beneatha's medical school tuition.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Mama Younger's check that is so eagerly anticipated by all members of the family comes from her husband's life insurance payout.  One of the themes in the play is the idea of how good can come from bad, and this element established in the opening helps to bring such an idea to light.  While her husband's death is certainly horrible, it might help bring the family some level of good as the money from his death can help to bring some stability to the family in the form of a new home.  This is why Mama is so protective of the money, and not willing to give it to Walter to open a liquor store with Bobo.  In the end, this check ends up setting the wheels in motion a chance for the family to live a better life, something good arising from something bad.

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