A Raisin in the Sun Questions and Answers
by Lorraine Hansberry

A Raisin in the Sun book cover
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What does the plant represent in the play A Raisin in the Sun?

Mama's plant in A Raisin in the Sun is a symbol for her dream of someday having her own house and garden. Mama has had this dream for a long time, and she hopes to put money down on a house so that her family can move out of their cramped apartment. At times she comes close to giving up hope, but she continues to hold onto her dream and nurture her plant, showing her perseverance.

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Among other things, the plant could be said to represent the love that Mama has for her family. She cares for the plant just as she cares for her children, nurturing it in the hope that it will continue to grow and flourish. Yet no matter how much time she devotes to taking care of the plant, it never seems to get enough light or water. Though it grows and flourishes, there's always room for improvement. I could always be bigger, stronger, and healthier.

In symbolic terms, this could be said to represent the environmental factors—such as society's racism, for example—that holds back the family from living out their dreams. Mama and her family simply want what most white people take for granted: a home of their own, good jobs, and a chance to become prosperous and successful. But they're systematically denied those opportunities, largely because of the racist society in which they live.

Yet Mama continues to cultivate the plant as best she can, lavishing as much love and attention on...

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