In A Raisin in the Sun, what kind of image do each of the characters represent toward society?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an interesting question to think about. If I understand you correctly, you are asking for what images we can relate to the principal characters of this play. I will respond by talking about Ruth, Walter, Mama and Beneatha.

When we think of Mama it is important that she is the central matriarchal force of the family. She is trying to keep the family all together and she at the same time assumes the position of power for the family. Having the inheritance and deciding how it will and will not be spent gives her the most power. The image that we can relate her to is therefore a strong family head that does everything she can to stop her family imploding.

Thining about Walter and Beneatha for one moment, these siblings are similar in the way that they rage against the low position society keeps them in. Both of them desire and strive to rise above the racism that they face, Walter by opening his own store so that he does not have to work for whites and Beneatha by training to be a doctor. Both of them wish to defy society and the position that society gives them. This makes them angry and passionate. The images I would associate with them both would be malcontented individuals who refuse to accept their position in society without a fight, and constantly strive to follow their dreams.

Lastly, Ruth is a figure who is a nurturer, like Mama, but also a figure who is slowly losing hope. This is shown through her desire to have an abortion because of the poverty of her family. Also, she constantly has to act as something of a mediator between the various angry elements of her family and try and keep the peace. I think of her as being a peacekeeper, but one who is losing the will to live and keep up the fight of life.