Role of Money in Walter’s Life

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A Raisin in the Sun, is all about an African American family, fighting for a better life. The family lives in a low income neighborhood in south side of Chicago in the 1950s where the family face racial barriers and chasing their dreams. Walter Younger is an anti hero, a flawed character who does not have hero qualities, but the reader can easily, want Walter to live a successful life and do better. He makes up for his faults, making a hard choice.

Walter believes money is most important in life and becoming a rich man. Walter hopelessly needs to become a man for his wife and son, but in actuality everything in Act I challenge him. Walter tries to show dominance or manliness, but his family throws it back in his face. As a father, husband and a man, Walter believes he is responsible for providing for his family, because his father Walter Senior, is deceased. Walter gravely wants to be the man his father was, but his living conditions are a relentless reminder of his failure to live up to those responsibilities “I'm thirty five years old; I been married eleven years and I got a boy who sleeps in the living room….. And all I got to give him is stories about how rich white people live”().

Walter wants to become an entrepreneur, and invest in a liquor store. In actuality of him not being able to achieve his goals, makes Walter behave different towards his family. He becomes a mean, rude and egotistical young man. Who makes poor decisions, and ends up hurting his family. Walter thinks investing in a liquor store using their father's insurance money will fulfill him, and finally becoming financially stable. He has good intentions, but his actions are wrong. Walter is unable to realize his true potential simply because he is a young black man, not able to reach it because of racial factors that he can't control. “I want so many things that they are driving me crazy…. Sometimes it's like I can see the future stretched out in front of me…. Just waitin for me. But it don't have to be”(). The future is Walter's manhood, and he can see it in his dreams but it is worthless if his family cannot rely on him.

Walter's outlook on life is different from Ruth's, which is “tempered by a pragmatic realism that can be ascribed to her triply bound position as a poor, black women”(). Walter can not see beyond his ambition, making it hard for him to realize the difficulty of Ruth's oppression, “We one group of men tied to a race of women with small minds!”(). He thinks Ruth does not want him to succeed, and that causes him distress, because society wants him to be a failure, “Man say to his woman: I got me a dream. His woman say: Eat your eggs…. Man say: I got to change my life, I'm choking to death, baby! And his woman say: Your eggs is getting cold!”().

Walter talks down on Beneatha's career choice, because she dreams of becoming a doctor. He says “Ain't many girls who decide to be a doctor”(). He even claims, that spending the money on Beneatha's education, is useless. And his wife would be wealthy and happy if Beneatha did not attend college. Walter dismisses Beneatha's dreams, but wants his family to support his dreams, and selfishly wants all of the insurance money. So he can do what he wants with it..

Walter Lee gives Willy Harris all of his fathers insurance money and it fails with a cruel irony. Willy runs off with the money, denying Walter of his chance to help his family in the white dominated society, and stripping him of his manhood once again. Although Walter loses all the money, even Beneatha's school tuition. He tries to redeem himself, but comes up with a horrible solution, to sell his pride for money. “That white man is going to walk in that do able to write checks for more money than we ever had. It's important to him and I'm going to help him…….I'm going to put on the show Mama”(). Mama is extremely disappointed with Walter, so she tells him to look at his son, Travis in the eyes and tell him he was going to sell the house.

Walter wants to be accountable and show his family that he can step up and be a man. Walter has to correct his mistakes, because it would be his last chance to reach his manhood. In the last scenes, Walter has to speak for the family, and I feel he is speaking for all African Americans as a whole, “We are proud people”(). Walter tells Mr. Linder that his family will not yield to the threats of racial violence, and that they will move into their new home on Clybourne Street because their father earned it. “finally come into his manhood today his manhood today, didn't he? Kind of like a rainbow after the rain”() he finally establishes a sense of authority, and takes the role as the family leader.

Walter can not see beyond his aspiration of being a wealthy man, even if it means letting his pride go. In the beginning of the play he was a greedy, clueless and bitter man who only cared about himself and his own dream. Walter Lee made a lot of mistakes throughout the play, but readers can still find a way to sympathize with him. And want him to prove himself as a man. Walter symbolizes as an anti hero, he is flawed but sympathetic character.

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Role of Money in Walter's Life. (2022, Feb 04). Retrieved September 25, 2023 , from

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