What does the house symbolize in A Raisin in the Sun?

The house in Raisin in the Sun symbolizes Lena's personal dream, social mobility, and hope for the family. It also symbolizes the family's unwillingness to bend to racism when they refuse to sell the house to the white community.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Younger family's new home in the white neighborhood of Clybourne Park symbolizes Lena's personal dream, significant social mobility, and hope for the family. When Lena receives her husband's ten thousand dollar insurance check, she puts a down payment on a spacious home in Clybourne Park. It is her dream to leave their tiny, outdated apartment in the South Side of Chicago and move into a comfortable home.

Once Walter Jr. discovers that his mother used some of the money to purchase a new home, he becomes deeply depressed and begins to drink heavily. Lena ends up sympathizing with her son and gives him the remainder of the insurance money to invest in a liquor business. Unfortunately, Walter's business partner steals the money, and Walter is forced to make a decision regarding whether or not to sell Lena's new home.

At the end of the play, Walter becomes a man by demonstrating integrity and refusing to sell the home back to the white community. The play ends with the Younger family preparing to move into the new home. The new home in Clybourne Park symbolically represents Lena's personal dream. She had always imagined moving out of their tiny apartment and has now fulfilled her dream.

The home also symbolically represents social mobility, as the Younger family climbs the social ladder and attains a new status in a wealthier community. The Younger family's new home also represents hope for their family and brighter days ahead. Although they must still overcome racial barriers, the Younger family is heading in the right direction and making small steps towards a better future.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The house is a symbol of stability and social mobility. With it, the Younger family has a chance to move to a nicer place, to live a stable life, and to experience upward social mobility.

After Walter Younger dies, the family has an insurance check. Lena, the mother, decides to purchase a house with some of the money. She gives the rest to her son, who loses it. The only way he can recoup enough money to fix things is to sell the home and Lena purchased. The neighborhood association where they're planning to move would purchase the house to keep a black family from moving in.

However, the house represents the best hope for the family. It gets them out of Chicago and gives them a new place to grow from. It's a way for them to turn away from the negativity of their past and find a healthy, happier future. Moving doesn't guarantee success because of the threat of prejudice in the new neighborhood, but it is a chance to get something better for themselves.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The home that Lena purchases symbolically represents a hope for a better future, a collective family dream, and the uncertain obstacles that they will face in the future. Initially, each of the family members has their own separate dreams of spending the ten thousand dollar insurance check that Lena receives after her husband passes away. While Lena wishes to upgrade the family's living situation by purchasing a home in the white neighborhood of Clybourne Park, Walter Jr. wishes to invest the money in a liquor business, and Beneatha dreams of using the money to pay for her college education to become a doctor. Eventually, Lena puts a down payment on the home and gives Walter the rest of the money, which he loses to a con man. Walter Jr. then makes the difficult decision to not sell Lena's home back to the white community, who is unhappy that a black family is moving into their neighborhood. After Walter tells Mr. Lindner to leave their apartment, their new home in Clybourne Park awaits them. With the family repaired and focused on living a comfortable, safe life in Clybourne Park, the home symbolically represents the renewed spirit of the Younger family, their collective dream of living comfortably, and a hope for a better future. Despite the many positives attached to the new home, there are also feelings of uncertainty about moving into an all-white neighborhood.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The house represents the hope for a positive change, a hope which will keep the family together. 

Initially Mama and Ruth are the only two characters that see the house this positive way. Walter and Beneatha do not prefer the house as means of improvement for the life of the family early in the play. Later, they come to see the house as Mama and Ruth do.

The house that Mama buys stands in direct contrast to the small apartment where the family has lived for so long. Cramped, dark, and worn, the apartment symbolizes the family's history of material struggles. The new house, oppositely, represents new possibillities, a literal expansion of space. 

Additionally, the new house represents a significant risk. Mama is taking a chance on her family by putting a down-payment on the house, calculating that an improvement in conditions can lead to an improvement in relations. 

 It is apparent it is not going to be easy for them; it might be very dangerous. But the people are transformed, and not afraid.

She hopes the diginity of home ownership and the physical improvement of conditions will make life better for the whole family and help each of them to find value in themselves. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team