Think about the role of money in the play, A Raisin in the Sun. How does it affect different characters?
Money plays an essential role in the play, A Raisin in the Sun. It is Hansberry's progressive and advanced attitude about American discrimination that she does a very skilled job of articulating the challenges the Younger family experiences on the ground of race and class, economics, and shows how both work in tandem with one another to provide obstacles to overcome in the pursuit of the American Dream. Money impacts Walter, as he is trapped by the lack of economic opportunity for he and his family. His desire to open a liquor store reflects his desire to make money, regardless of all else. Money is also critical in his initial desire to accept the buyout offer from Lindner. Money is a binding element for the entire family from the start of the play. From Travis asking for fifty cents from school to Berneatha's medical school expenses, to the impending check that Mama uses to "buy" her family a new start at Clybourne Park, economics impacts the Younger family as it serves as a critical element in providing opportunity. When money is present, the family feels a certain hope which is only matched when money is absent or taken from them. The role and presence of money in the play seems to be strongly linked to hope and opportunity. Its presence opens up windows and doors for the Younger family, while its absence indicates closed paths and immense difficulties. It is Hansberry's greatness in articulating that poor families of color in America at this time period, and to some extent even now, face two sets of social difficulties that act to create a setting where their dreams can result in being "a raisin in the sun."
Money enables the Younger family for the first time to realize their dreams an attain financial freedom. Even though Lena is the beneficiary of her husband's $10,000 insurance check, each person in the household has their own specific idea of how the money should be spent on their individual dream. Beneatha wishes that she could use the money to pay for her college education to support her dream of one day becoming a doctor. In contrast, Walter wants to use the money to fund getting into the liquor business, which he believes is a lucrative investment. Lena and Ruth simply want to use the money to move out of their cramped, run-down South Side apartment.
Walter's dream and ideas of how to use the money creates a divide throughout the household. Walter is adamant that investing in his liquor business will be a success and becomes sorely depressed when Lena initially dismisses his dream. However, Lena generously allows Walter to use the majority of the money to invest in his dream after she puts a down payment on a home in Clybourne Park. Unfortunately, Walter's business partner steals the money, which forces Walter to make a difficult decision concerning whether or not he will sell Lena's house back to the all-white neighborhood commission. In this way, money becomes an issue that negatively impacts the family's trajectory. Overall, money is portrayed as an outside force that can either fund or destroy a person's dream.