What are some quotes from Walter in A Raisin in the Sun about the liquor store he wants?

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emilyknight7 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The liquor store is Walter's big plan to escape poverty, and, as such, quotes about it reveal the desperation and family arguments that poverty can create. We first hear about the plan for the liquor store in Act 1, Scene 1. Walter says:

"Yeah. You see, this little liquor store we got in mind cost seventy-five thousand and we figured the initial investment on the place be ‘bout thirty thousand, see. That be ten thousand each. Course, there’s a couple of hundred you got to pay so’s you don’t spend your life just waiting for them clowns to let your license get approved – "

When he brings up this plan, the rest of the family is dubious about its chances of success, even though, on paper, it's not a bad idea. Walter seems to be living by the adage you need to spend money to make money, which is probably pretty realistic in this case. Even though Ruth argues with Walter when he brings this up, she also pleads his case with Lena (whose husband's insurance check would provide the funds), saying Walter "needs something – something I can't give him anymore. He needs this chance, Lena."

Ruth sees the way poverty is wearing down on them all, but it is especially affecting Walter as the supposed breadwinner of the family. His feeling that he cannot support his family makes him feel like an inferior father, husband, and man, and Ruth recognizes this. 

When Walter comes home the next day, he's eager to pitch the idea, but Lena and Ruth rebuff him to discuss Ruth's pregnancy. He is furious:

"You ain't even looked at it and you have decided... Well, you tell that to my boy tonight when you put him to sleep on the living-room couch... Yeah – and tell it to my wife, Mama, tomorrow when she has to go out of here to look after somebody else's kids" (Act 1, Scene 2). 

Again, we see that Walter's frustration comes not only from not having enough money, but also from not feeling like he can properly provide for his wife and son. 

When Lena agrees to give Walter some of her money to invest, he goes straight to his son, to emotionally share what this will mean for his future:

"You wouldn't understand yet, son, but your daddy's gonna make a business transaction... [here Walter paints a picture of what life will be like when Travis is seventeen] and I'll say, all right son – it's your seventeenth birthday, what is it you've decided? ...Just tell me where you want to go to school and you'll go. Just tell me, what it is you want to be – and you'll be it" (Act 2, Scene 2)

Walter's joy is definitely in the life he'll lead as a rich man, but also in the life he'll be able to provide for his family. All that falls apart, though when he learns that Willy has run off with all the money. At first he is in disbelief, imagining that Willy went alone or that Bobo was late and missed him or that Willy got sick. When he finally accepts the truth, he screams, "THAT MONEY IS MADE OUT OF MY FATHER'S FLESH" (Act 2, Scene 3). Despite what Lena and Ruth think, Walter knows the value of what he gambled and fully appreciates the loss of it. 

 

 

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A Raisin in the Sun

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