Commonly referred to as “Mama,” Lena Younger is the matriarchal head of the household, the mother of Walter Lee and Beneatha, and grandmother of Travis. As a religious woman, Mama firmly advocates traditional values, genuinely cares about everyone in the family, and is a well-balanced blend of both idealistic and realistic dreamer. The author Lorraine Hansberry portrays Lena Younger as the core of the family. Playing the traditional 'mother role', Mama is a firm believer in supporting the family.
On page 145, Mama said to Beneath: 'When you start measuring somebody, measure him right'. She taught her daughter an important lesson to not to judge a book by its cover and to view things from different perspectives. Even though Walter makes a mistake losing all the insurance money, Mama still loves him. She demands all family members support Walter and respect each other. Not only to set moral standards, Mama also maintains the orders in the household, as the head of the family.
Mama counts on god to be the reason she gets up from bed every morning, and to give her the strength to overcome difficult circumstances. Various conflicts arouse, when Beneath said God does not exist, when Walter wants to invest a liquor store, and when Ruth seeks for abortion. Mama is very strict about religion beliefs, when it comes to her children. She did not allow any disrespect of God happen in the household. Mama is the most caring character in “A Raisin in the Sun”. She wants her children to live happily and fulfill their dreams.
Not only she cares about the harmony of the family as a whole, she also deeply cares about each one of the family members. Mama is fond of Ruth. She consults her to see the bright side of the future when Ruth feels the bleak of life. She always has Travis on her mind. Mama believes it is essential to offer Travis a yard to play in, and a better place to sleep than the couch in the living room. It is quite clear to the readers that Mama does not like the idea that Beneatha is not playing the traditional 'woman role', and insists to be a doctor.
However, Mama still supports her dream by saving 3000 dollars of the insurance money for her medical school tuition. It has been mentioned a few times in the play that the concept of investing a liquor store seems unreligious to Mama. By giving Walter 6500 dollars of money and saying 'It ain't much, but it's all I got in the world and I'm putting it in your hands. I'm telling you to be the head of this family from now on like you supposed to be', nevertheless, Mama decides to provide whatever she has to her son and expects him to manage the family. In the 1950s, when the blacks were separated but equal, Mama has her American dream.
To move into a nice house, have a yard and a harmonious family are all Mama wants in her entire life. It is not irrational to say that Mama is a well-balanced blend of both idealistic and realistic dreamer. Mama's American dream is ideal, but approachable. Unlike Beneatha's dream to be a doctor, which she gives up towards the end of the play, Mama knew she will achieve her dream in her lifespan, and carefully planned for it. In the 1950s, African Americans were fighting for equal status in society. Racial segregation against blacks made Mama's dream harder to be achieved. No matter how bad the case is, Mama does her best to improve her family's situation.
'Son-I just tried to find the nicest place for the least amount of money for my family.' (p93) As Mama is looking for a place for the Youngers to move into with the insurance money, she set her eyes on a house located in Clybourne Park. Lena Younger plays the most critical role in the play, who urges the family to move forward and upward, learns to appreciate her children’s dreams, and finally transfers the power of the family to her son Walter. She would love to keep the standards and the orders of the family, mind her children and grandchild, and dream to buy a nice house.
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