A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

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What does the new house signify to each of the Youngers inA Raisin in the Sun?

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e-martin eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The house does not mean the same thing to each member of the Younger family initially. However, by the close of the play the house comes to have a single meaning for the whole family, ultimately representing a chance to come together as a family. 

Walter and Beneatha are both more interested in achieving individual success and in finding some personal dignity through individual achievement. They each feel that looking outward for success is the surest way to build up a pride. They do not look at family as being a source of pride. 

This outlook carries over to the views that Walter and Beneatha initially hold regarding the prospect of buying a house. As the house is meant for the whole family, it does not seem to satisfy the individual needs of these two characters

For Walter, in particular, the house represents an alternative to his plan to buy a liquor store. By extension, the idea of buying a house serves to undermine his authority in the household. It is not what he wants to do. The house offers no possibility for moving up in the world financially. The house will not change Walter's position in the world as he sees it. 

For Mama and Ruth, who see the family falling apart, the house does represent a kind of possibility. The apartment is worn out, small and dark. The family is following the same arc as the apartment. 

"Its furnishings are typical and undistinguished and their primary feature now is that they have clearly had to accommodate the living of too many people for too many years."

A larger house will offer comfort to the family and may ease some of the inevitable tensions of living in a cramped space. Additionally, the new house will take the family out of the impoverished environs where they currently live. The house represents a chance for the family to remain intact.

When the family's pride is put on the line, both Beneatha and Walter begin to see the house as a means to achieving dignity. Choosing to move into the house will not only please their mother. It will demonstrate their own view of who they are and what value they hold as people and as a family.

Walter is able to prove that he has pride and dignity by refusing to be kept out of the new neighborhood. This course of action also allows Walter to choose to define himself through his family. The same is true of Beneatha.

The house, finally, becomes a symbol of hope and faith in the family structure, in the unity of the Younger family, and in the potential of the family unit to be a generative source of individual value and positive identity. Mama had worried that Walter would not be able to find this value and this pride in his family. 

As the play ends, Mama talks to Ruth about the change in Walter that happened that day; both women are very proud.

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Initially, the new house in Clybourne Park represents an obstacle that impedes both Walter Jr. and Beneatha's dreams. Walter Jr. wishes to use the money from Lena's insurance check to invest in his liquor business and opposes her plans to buy the home in Clybourne Park. While Beneatha does not overtly reject her mother's dream, she expresses her desire to enroll in college to become a doctor. One could surmise that Beneatha would rather use Lena's money to enroll in college instead of buying a new home.

Both Walter Jr. and Beneatha are portrayed as relatively self-centered individuals, who have their own dreams and plans of spending the insurance check. While Beneatha at least recognizes that the money belongs to Lena and is hers to spend, Walter Jr. sees the money as the key to his family's financial freedom and happiness. Essentially, Walter Jr. views the home in Clybourne Park as a significant obstacle deterring his dream of entering the liquor business.

In contrast, Lena and Ruth view the home as a new beginning and fresh start to life. Both characters believe that the new home will uplift the family's spirit and inspire hope. Lena sees the home as a comfortable environment for her family to enjoy their lives while Ruth sees it as a cure for her depression. Both Lena and Ruth feel cramped and stressed in their small South Side apartment and see the new home in Clybourne Park as an escape from their tired lives.

At the end of the play, Walter Jr. experiences a significant inner change as he is about to sell the home back to the white community. He decides to keep the home and illustrates his integrity by refusing to sell the home to Mr. Lindner. By the end of the play, the entire family sees the home as a new chance at life and a new beginning to achieve their goals.

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