A Raisin in the Sun

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A Raisin in the Sun Quotes

Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of A Raisin in the Sun published in 2004.
Act 1, Scene 1 Quotes

Walter: See there, that just goes to show you what women understand about the world. Baby, don’t nothing happen for you in this world ‘less you pay somebody off!
Ruth: Walter, leave me alone! Eat your eggs, they gonna be cold.
Walter: That’s it. There you are. Man say to his woman: I got me a dream. His woman say: Eat your eggs. Man say: I got to take hold of this here world, baby! And a woman will say: Eat your eggs and go to work. Man say: I got to change my life, I’m choking to death, baby! And his woman say – Your eggs is getting cold!

Related Characters: Walter Lee Younger (speaker), Ruth Younger (speaker)
Page Number: 33-34
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote occurs midway through a discussion between Walter Younger and his wife Ruth. Their son Travis has gone to school and Ruth cooks breakfast for Walter. As she cooks, Walter tells Ruth that he hopes to use his deceased father’s $10,000 life insurance money to invest in a down payment on a liquor store with his friends, Willy Harris and Bobo. Ruth is wary of the investment. She doesn’t trust Willy and Bobo and continuously evades discussing the prospect of Walter using his father’s money on an investment. She finally tells him to leave her alone and he reacts with frustration at both his wife and his own position in life; a black man in the 1950’s trying to provide for his family.

This is the first time Hansberry touches on the idea of dreams and dreaming in A Raisin In The Sun, as well as differentiates between the dreams of men and the dreams of women. This scene highlights Walter’s aspirations for wealth and thereby an escape from his family’s poor Southside Chicago life. He is filled with hope and a deep longing for financial stability. This moment also underlines Walter’s continual feeling of being out of control and at the mercy of others. He is a chauffeur for a wealthy white family, and his mother is the sole inheritor of the $10,000, and so she will ultimately have the final say. In the time-period of the play, men were expected to lead and provide for their families, so Walter, who is the only man in the family but neither the final decision-maker nor the primary breadwinner, feels emasculated. He needs dreams in order to survive and retain his dignity. Ruth on the other hand is pragmatic, as women had to be at the time. Her aspirations are less expansive. For her, survival means cooking breakfast, making sure her son gets to school and she and her husband get to work. Thus, she responds to Walter’s big dreams with the utilitarian and simple task of "eat your eggs." As a woman (particularly a black woman) in this time period, she doesn’t have room to dream the way Walter dreams.

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That is just what is wrong with the colored women in this world . . . Don’t understand about building their men up and making ‘em feel like they somebody. Like they can do something.

Related Characters: Walter Lee Younger (speaker)
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

Just before this quote, Walter expressed frustration at Ruth telling him to “eat your eggs” instead of discussing his potential investment on a liquor store. After he explains why he wants to invest, Ruth tells him that the money he plans to use doesn’t  belong to him (it belongs to his mother). Walter responds with a moment of deep sensitivity. He explains that he wants a better life. He wants to be able to provide for his family. He goes on to tell Ruth that he has heard stories of the way “white people live” and wants a life like that. Ruth is tired of hearing these lofty dreams and tells Walter that he never really says anything new. He talks about his dreams and his place and she is seemingly bored and sick of it.

This quote is Walter's response. He tells Ruth that her refusal to take him or his dreams seriously is the problem with “colored women in this world.” This highlights both the themes of race and gender in A Raisin In The Sun. In 1950s America, a woman’s role was to uplift and support her husband. Ruth, in her stern and outspoken manner, is the antithesis of such behavior. Walter also draws a racial comparison suggesting that white women do behave in such a way, with the implication that it is this behavior of white women that helps white men to hold such positions of power.

Walter is frustrated by the position of black people in society and is also making fun of his wife for not fitting into the standard gender role of "mother" and "housewife." In his own way, Walter is trying to hash out why and how upward mobility seems so hard for black men. Yet in searching for something tangible to blame—and landing on black women as the cause—he fails to see the true cause: systemic racism that restricts the opportunities of black people and in doing so degrades their sense of dignity. 

Walter: Who the hell told you you had to be a doctor? If you so crazy ‘bout messing ‘round with sick people – then go be a nurse like other women – or just get married and be quiet . . .
Beneatha: Well – you finally got it said . . . It took you three years but you finally got it said.

Related Characters: Walter Lee Younger (speaker), Beneatha Younger (speaker)
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Walter chastises his 20-year-old sister Beneatha for wanting to be a doctor. Before this, Beneatha wakes up in the room she shares her mother and comes out to talk with her family. Already in a fit of frustration regarding the insurance money, Walter suggests that his mother will play favorites and give a portion of the $10,000 to Beneatha to finish her schooling. He is both frustrated that his mother holds control of the money and bitter that a portion of it will go to his sister. 

This moment excavates themes of gender and feminism and dreams and dreaming. A Raisin In The Sun is set in the mid-1950s, a time where women weren’t seen as leaders in the workplace. Instead of doctors, they were more commonly nurses. Instead of business owners,  they were secretaries. Many were housewives and mothers. Beneatha challenges the socially constructed expectations of both her gender and her race. As a black woman pursuing a career in medicine, she fights stereotypes and aspires to go beyond what is culturally expected and even acceptable.

Beneatha and Walter are more similar than they both think. Both of their aspirations extend beyond what society expects of them. However, Walter sees Beneatha’s role as exclusively mother and wife. Beneatha, on the other hand, doesn’t take Walter’s dream of opening a liquor store seriously. This moment is just the beginning of what will be an ongoing discourse between Walter and Beneatha regarding the validity of one another's dreams. 

Mama, something is happening between Walter and me. I don’t know what it is – but he needs something – something I can’t give him anymore. He needs this chance, Lena.

Related Characters: Ruth Younger (speaker), Lena Younger (Mama), Walter Lee Younger
Related Symbols: The Insurance Payment
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote occurs during a conversation between Mama and Ruth. After breakfast, Walter exits the apartment and we are introduced to “Mama” or Lena Younger—Walter and Beneatha’s mother. She enters complaining about how loudly Walter slammed the door, and then goes through a series of questions and commands. She checks in about how Walter is doing and makes jokes about her children. It becomes clear that the role of mother is etched in her soul. This seems appropriate as she remains mostly nameless throughout the play, primarily referred to as “Mama.” In a moment alone, Ruth tells Mama that Beneatha and Walter have been fighting about the insurance money. Ruth then asks Mama how she actually plans on using that money. Mama dismisses this, but Ruth suggests that maybe gambling on the liquor store isn’t necessarily a bad idea. Mama asks why she’s changed her mind.

In response, Ruth suggests that she can’t give Walter what he needs; a chance to fulfill his own dreams. Ruth is exhausted and tired of working for hardly any pay, and in this moment shares that she wants more for herself, in the same way Walter and Beneatha do. Except as as more traditional wife and mother, Ruth's dreams are her husband’s dreams. She hopes to fix the problems in her marriage by helping Walter fulfill his dreams, and for this he needs the insurance money.

Mama: What is it you want to express?
Beneatha: Me! Don’t worry – I don’t expect you to understand.

Related Characters: Lena Younger (Mama) (speaker), Beneatha Younger (speaker)
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

This moment happens during a conversation between Beneatha, Ruth, and Mama. When Mama asks Beneatha about what time she's going to be home from school that evening, Beneatha tells Ruth and Mama that she is coming home late because she plans on taking her first guitar lesson after school. Mama goes on to tease Beneatha, telling her that she’s flippant with her forms of "expression." First it was acting, followed by horse back riding, and now it's guitar. Mama hardly trusts that Beneatha will commit to this new hobby.

Beneatha defends herself by telling Mama that she doesn’t “flit” but rather experiments with different forms of expression. Mama then asks her what she’s trying to express. And Beneatha responds angrily with, “Me!”

Here we learn that Beneatha takes great pride in her self-expression and is in search of her own identity. Throughout the play she defines herself by her education, her dress, her activities and her connection to her African heritage. In this moment, Hansberry also highlights the generational differences between Mama and Beneatha. Mama doesn’t understand Beneatha’s need to express. Like Ruth, she is pragmatic and reserved. The only thing she expresses is her love for her family and staunch sense of survival.  She fits the traditional 1950s mold of mother, and takes pride in that. Indeed, after this moment Mama immediately re-routes the conversation to George Murchison, Beneatha’s suitor, pushing her to make a commitment to him, like a good woman should. 

Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

Asagai: You wear it well . . . very well . . . mutilated hair and all.
Beneatha: My hair – what’s wrong with my hair?
Asagai: Were you born with it like that?
Beneatha: No . . . of course not.

Related Characters: Beneatha Younger (speaker), Joseph Asagai (speaker)
Related Symbols: Beneatha’s Hair
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

Directly before this quote we are introduced to Joseph Asagai, a friend of Beneatha’s. Asagai, a Nigerian student, has returned from a trip to Canada and visits the Younger home to see Beneatha. When he arrives he gifts Beneatha traditional Nigerian robes. Asagai then comments on Beneatha’s hair. She asks him what’s wrong with it, and he tells her it isn’t “natural.” Beneatha replies that it’s easier to manage longer, permed hair. Asagai teases her, saying that he’s shocked that she would “mutilate” her natural hair for the sake of ease.

Here, Hansberry touches on the themes of assimilation, discrimination, gender, and feminism. Beneatha’s constant change of interests and hobbies represents more than a search for expression; she is also in search of her own identity. Beneatha represents the identity struggle many black people faced and continue to face in America. It is racist society that has dictated that Beneatha’s natural hair is unruly and messy. In Asagai’s view, by perming her hair Beneatha is assimilating to American cultural standards of beauty, which are grounded in whiteness and what white people consider attractive or appealing. Beneatha’s straight hair, although also possibly more manageable, mostly symbolizes her desire to fit in with white culture.

This also brings up questions of gender and feminism in A Raisin In The Sun. Like Ruth’s quote about Walter eating his eggs earlier in Act I, Beneatha’s response to Asagai’s comments about her hair are pragmatic. Straightening her hair is easier than letting it be natural. It’s a utilitarian choice. Furthermore, it’s important to note that only women’s hair is discussed in the play. Even though Asagai's comments are aimed at empowering Beneatha to be a strong black woman, the discussion of hair and her physical attributes of beauty indicate the gender roles and standards of the time. In her interaction with Asagai, there is more discussion about Beneatha’s hair than there is about her becoming a doctor.

Mama: Oh – So now it’s life. Money is life. Once upon a time freedom used to be life – now it’s money. I guess the world really do change . . .
Walter: No – it was always money, Mama. We just didn’t know about it.
Mama: No . . . something has changed. You something new, boy. In my time we was worried about not being lynched and getting to the North if we could and how to stay alive and still have a pinch of dignity too . . .

Related Characters: Lena Younger (Mama) (speaker), Walter Lee Younger (speaker)
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote occurs during a discussion between Mama and Walter. Before this quote, Mama tells Walter that she’s concerned that he may be cheating on Ruth; he’s constantly out of the house and is very secretive with his family. Walter tells Mama that he isn’t cheating on his wife but rather searching for “peace.” He is restless. Walter explains that he sees a bright future in front of him, and investing in a liquor store is the only way he knows how to reach it. Walter goes on to tell Mama that sometimes, when he walks down the Chicago streets, he sees white men through the windows of restaurants having business meetings. He wants that.  Mama replies by asking him why he talks about money so much. Walter retorts, “Because it is life.”

Here Mama details the differences between her generation and her children’s. She was a child at the turn of the century, a time when “freedom” meant something entirely different for black Americans. Mama's parents escaped slavery to provide her with a better life. Freedom for her meant not being lynched or killed for being black. Freedom has been redefined for her children, however. Rather than being freed from the physical chains of slavery, Walter is in pursuit of freedom from economic oppression. In Mama’s perspective, Walter doesn’t realize how lucky he is. He doesn't take pride in the four generations of slaves and indentured servants that fought for freedom so that he could have a better life. She is frustrated at his lack of dignity, ingratitude, and sense of privilege. By fighting for a better life, Mama gave Walter the freedom to dream bigger than she was ever able to, and now she can’t quite understand why his dreams are based so much on financial wealth. 

Well – son, I’m waiting to hear you say something . . . I’m waiting to hear how you be your father’s son. Be the man he was . . . Your wife say she going to destroy your child. And I’m waiting to hear you talk like him and say we a people who give children life, not who destroys them – I’m waiting to see you stand up and look like your daddy and say we done give one baby up to poverty and that we ain’t going to give up nary another one . . .

Related Characters: Lena Younger (Mama) (speaker)
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:

Before this moment, Mama expresses that she's concerned that Walter is cheating on Ruth. Walter denies this, but reveals that he is in a troubling place in his life. He hasn't been cheating, but rather has been searching for answers. He is frustrated by his position in the world and feels like his dreams of financial wealth and a better life for his family will never be realized. Mama chastises Walter for seeing money as the ultimate form of freedom. Walter dismisses this, telling Mama she doesn't understand what he's going through. At her wit's end, Mama finally reveals that Ruth is pregnant. She tells Walter that Ruth has been trying to tell him. but he hasn't been around or interested enough to listen. Mama then tells Walter that Ruth is considering aborting the baby. Walter argues that Ruth would never do that. Having overheard the conversation from her bedroom, Ruth immediately enters the room and tells Walter that she has put down a five dollar down payment for the procedure. In a moment of silence between Walter and Ruth, Mama tells Walter that this is the moment for him to "be a man." She implores him to live up to his father's legacy and convince Ruth to not go through with the abortion. 

Mama takes great pride in her faith and moral ethics, and Ruth's abortion tests those. This is also another moment where Walter's masculinity is questioned. Mama asks Walter to take pride in his beliefs and his manhood and step up and be a leader and a father. This moment also highlights the way poverty impacts decisions like childbearing, and takes a toll on pride and honor. Ruth's abortion is a result of her poverty, not a choice she would make if the Younger family were financially stable. This moment symbolizes how poverty strips people of their own dignity and sense of self.

Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

Oh, dear, dear, dear! Here we go! A lecture on the African past! On our Great West African Heritage! In one second we will hear all about the great Ashanti empires; the great Songhay civilizations; and the great sculpture of Bénin – and then some poetry in the Bantu – and the whole monologue will end with the word heritage! Let’s face it, baby, your heritage is nothing but a bunch of raggedy-assed spirituals and some grass huts!

Related Characters: George Murchison (speaker)
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

Beneatha enters the living room, clad in the Nigerian robes that Asagai has given her. She changes the record Ruth is playing, saying “Enough of this assimilation junk,” puts on a Nigerian record, and dances. Ruth teases Beneatha for her behavior, but Beneatha keeps dancing. Walter then enters the apartment after a night of drinking. He drunkenly dances along with Beneatha, and then turns to see George Murchison, Beneatha’s suitor, at the door. Shocked by her appearance, George looks at Beneatha’s robes and asks her to change. She then takes off the headdress to reveal natural, curly hair cut short. George and Ruth are stunned that Beneatha proudly wears her hair in its natural form. In a moment of awe, George says, "What have you done to your head?" Beneatha answers matter-of-factly that she's cut her hair off. George then tells Beneatha that she isn’t making a statement—she’s just being eccentric. Making a jab at George, Beneatha replies that she “hates assimilationist negroes,” describing them (and thereby George) as people who give up their own culture to survive in an oppressive one. George replies with this quote, which infuriates Beneatha. 

Here, George expresses his exhaustion with Beneatha's newfound "Back to Africa" sentiments, and even pokes fun at the heritage they share. In this moment, Hansberry distills an important cultural conversation that was happening during the time A Raisin In The Sun was written. In the 1950s and 60s, many Civil Rights leaders like Malcolm X reinforced the idea that black people should reclaim their African heritage. Many believed that assimilating to American culture meant assimilating to White culture, and thus submitting to the oppressor. However, others believed that in order to close the racial gap in America, people had to come together. Some simply felt that making a statement like Beneatha's was petty and unnecessary. George represents this group of people. He is in many ways self-hating and discriminatory against his own heritage. George prides himself on his education and upward mobility, and sees Beneatha's act of expression as childish and silly.

George: You’re all wacked up with bitterness, man.
Walter: And you – ain’t you bitter, man? Ain’t you just about had it yet? Don’t you see no stars gleaming that you can’t reach out and grab? You happy? – You contented son-of-a-bitch – you happy? You got it made? Bitter? Man, I’m a volcano. Bitter? Here I am a giant – surrounded by ants! Ants who can’t even understand what it is the giant is talking about.

Related Characters: Walter Lee Younger (speaker), George Murchison (speaker)
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:

Just before this, Walter mocks George's appearance and then comments on the success of George's father. He hints that he has a business venture he wants to get into, and would like to sit down with George to talk about it. George clearly dismisses Walter. This infuriates Walter, who retorts with a series of insults. Walter tells George that his education is pointless and all he is learning is to "talk proper and read books and wear them faggoty looking white shoes." George tells Walter that he's just bitter about his own lack of success. Walter, angrily expresses that he doesn't understand why people won't allow themselves to dream as big as he does. In his mind, George should also be bitter. Walter has dreams he can't touch and George chooses to ignore them. In Walter's perspective, George is an ant with small goals and small aspirations. 

In this scene, Hansberry brings up themes of dreams, pride, and gender roles. George's blatant ignoring of Ruth (as he does earlier in the conversation) and engagement with Walter highlights different forms of disrespect. George doesn't bother paying attention to or listening to Ruth because she is a woman. On the other hand, he is also rude and sarcastic with Walter. This moment also highlights different types of pride. George's pride lies in his social standing, education, and assimilation into white society. Walter's pride is in his dreams. Both also hold pride in their manhood. Walter comments on George's clothes, hinting that they are flamboyant and feminine, while also referencing himself as a "volcano" as a means to reinforce his masculinity. 


Well – well! – All I can say is – if this is my time in life – MY TIME – to say good-bye – to these goddamned cracking walls! – and these marching roaches! – and this cramped little closet which ain’t now or never was no kitchen! . . . then I say it loud and good, HALLELUJAH! AND GOOD-BYE MISERY . . . I DON’T NEVER WANT TO SEE YOUR UGLY FACE AGAIN!

Related Characters: Ruth Younger (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Insurance Payment
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote occurs when Mama re-enters the house after being gone for several hours. Walter asks her where she's been, and she replies that she went downtown for "business," She calls Travis to the room and reveals to the family that she has used the insurance money to make a down payment on a house. Walter "turns away from all of them in fury" while Ruth, Travis, and Mama celebrate.

Mama then wails "Praise GOD" and asks Walter, who has been silent, to please be happy for her. Mama then describes the house in detail. Ruth asks Mama where the house is located, and Mama tells her it's in Clybourne park. Ruth is shocked, as Clybourne park is an all-white neighborhood. Mama replies that it was the nicest and cheapest house she could find. Ruth recovers and says the following quote with excitement and joy. She expresses her joy to be leaving their tiny apartment and screams goodbye to the pain and tumult the Younger family faced while living there. 

In this moment we see one of Ruth's dreams come to fruition. She is thrilled to say goodbye to her two-bedroom Southside Chicago home and move forward, to a better home and a better life for Travis and her unborn child. Here, Hansberry suggests that the decision to have an abortion was a product of Ruth's poverty, not her will. This is another moment of female pragmatism and self sacrifice for the family. Furthermore, in an act of empowerment, Mama has made the decision to spend the insurance money on a new home. She has solidified herself as head of household, something uncommon during the 1950s.

Son – you – you understand what I done, don’t you? I – I just seen my family falling apart today . . . just falling to pieces in front of my eyes . . . We couldn’t of gone on like we was today. We was going backwards ‘stead of forwards – talking ‘bout killing babies and wishing each other was dead . . . When it gets like that in life – you just got to do something different, push on out and do something bigger.

Related Characters: Lena Younger (Mama) (speaker), Walter Lee Younger
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote occurs directly after Mama reveals that she has used the insurance money for a down payment on a new house for the family in Clybourne Park. Walter has said very little at this point and is furious that Mama chose to use the money in this way. In this moment Mama is trying to level with Walter. She explains that this day was a low point for the Younger family. She saw her daughter-in-law consider aborting her unborn child, she saw her children fighting about money, she saw her daughter struggle with her identity, and thought that her son wasn't going to make it through. She saw the effects that poverty and oppression can have on people. The choice to buy a home was Mama's effort to save her family.

Mama's strength and Walter's silence highlight the way many of the characters challenge and face gender roles in A Raisin In The Sun. Mama has taken control of the insurance money and has made an executive decision. This infuriates Walter. Much of his pride is bound up in his manhood and sense of masculinity. Throughout the play he has expressed his resentment of his inability to control his own life and provide for his family. By calling the shots, Mama has emasculated him once again. In Walter's perspective, she has stripped Walter of his choice and leadership—but for Mama, her  decision to buy the house was also a choice to restore her family's dignity. The events of the day were the last straw for her and she tried to fix the problem the only way she knew how. 

Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes

I say I been wrong, son. That I been doing to you what the rest of the world been doing to you. Walter – what you ain’t never understood is that I ain’t got nothing, don’t own nothing, ain’t never really wanted nothing that wasn’t for you. . . . There ain’t nothing worth holding on to, money, dreams, nothing else – if it means – if it means it’s going to destroy my boy. . . . I’m telling you to be the head of this family from now on like you supposed to be.

Related Characters: Lena Younger (Mama) (speaker), Walter Lee Younger
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:

In this moment, Mama tells Walter that she finally understands where his anger and frustration is coming from. Before this quote, Mama used her deceased husband's life insurance money for a down payment on a new house in Clybourne Park. Mrs. Arnold, Walter's boss, then calls to tell Walter that if he doesn't show up for work tomorrow he will be fired. Ruth and Mama learn that Walter hasn't been to work in three days. Mama asks Walter what he's been doing, and Walter tells her that he's been borrowing Willy Harris' car, driving through Illinois, and drinking at The Green Hat—a Jazz club—every afternoon. He has given up on his job and, in many ways, himself. He is lost. 

This moment reveals Walter's complete loss of pride and deep need for escape. Mama blames herself and tells Walter that she was the one who did this to him. Here, Hansberry touches on the gender roles put in place during the time period in which A Raisin In The Sun was written. By taking control of the insurance money, Mama has emasculated Walter. He is the man, and so by cultural standards is supposed to be the "head of household," and the one to decide how to allocate finances.  Mama laments that she has been doing "what the rest of the world been doing,"—depriving Walter of his manhood and keeping him from his dreams and his pride. After she says this she hands Walter the $6,500  left over from the down payment on the house. Mama asks him to put some away for Beneatha's schooling and use the rest however he wants, even for his investment on the liquor store. Mama has relinquished her role and, in order to save Walter, offers him control over the money. 

Act 2, Scene 3 Quotes

But you’ve got to admit that a man, right or wrong, has the right to want to have a neighborhood he lives in a certain kind of way. And at the moment the overwhelming majority of our people out there feel that people get along better, take more of a common interest in the life of the community, when they share a common background. I want you to believe me when I tell you that race prejudice simply doesn’t enter into it. It is a matter of the people of Clybourne Park believing, rightly or wrongly, as I say, that for the happiness of all concerned that our Negro families are happier when they live in their own communities.

Related Characters: Karl Lindner (speaker)
Page Number: 117-118
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote is spoken by Mr. Lindner, a representative from the Clybourne Park Improvement Association. Before this moment, the Youngers have been riding the coattails of the excitement that came from Mama's purchase of the new house. As they celebrate, Mr. Lindner knocks on the door. He comes into the Younger home to tell them that the homeowners of Clybourne Park are uncomfortable with a "different" family moving in—so much so that they are offering to purchase the house from the Younger family at a higher price than what they've paid. This is an effort to maintain Clybourne Park as a community of people with "common interests," or simply put: to make sure that black people do not move in. 

Although not outwardly derogatory, Mr. Lindner's efforts to maintain racial segregation in Clybourne Park are inherently racist. The white families of Clybourne Park do not see black people as equals and thereby do not believe that they deserve to live in their neighborhoods. Mr. Lindner tries to be as politically correct as possible, but the message is clear: the status quo in Clybourne Park is that of white supremacy, and the members of the community want to maintain that status quo. Although sugar coated in flowery language and nervousness, Mr.Lindner symbolizes the abundant discrimination and racism of American society in the 1950s—racism that exhibited itself in many ways, not just in outright violence or insulting language. 

Man, I trusted you . . . Man, I put my life in your hands . . . Man . . . THAT MONEY IS MADE OUT OF MY FATHER’S FLESH –

Related Characters: Walter Lee Younger (speaker), Walter Younger (Big Walter), Willy Harris
Related Symbols: The Insurance Payment
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:

During this quote, Bobo, Walter's business partner, comes to the Younger home to relay some news. Directly before this moment, Walter has been celebrating his investment on the liquor store with his family, regaling them with fantasies of fine clothes and celebrating the future. Bobo then enters and nervously tells Walter that he was supposed to meet Willy Harris to get the liquor license, but Willy never showed up. Bobo also tells Walter that Willy was the one who had all of the money. Bobo hasn't been able to reach Willy since. The money is gone.

Walter grabs Bobo by the collar and shakes him furiously. He is in shock and doesn't know what to do with himself. He tells Bobo that the money was his entire life. It was the money he inherited from his dead father, his very "flesh." Walter then reveals to the family that he gave Willy the entire $6,500 of insurance money instead of putting some away for Beneatha. 

Here Walter's dreams are shattered. Throughout the play his pride and manhood have been questioned and tirelessly compared to his father's. Here he realizes that the money was the last bit of his father's legacy, and it was also the last bit of Walter's pride. The money and the investment meant freedom for himself and his family, as well as his only opportunity to exercise choice and power. Now Walter is left with nothing, as his own ambition has gotten in the way of his father's dream for his family to have a better life. 

Act 3 Quotes

Independence and then what? What about all the crooks and thieves and just plain idiots who will come into power and steal and plunder the same as before – only now they will be black and do it in the name of the new Independence – WHAT ABOUT THEM?!

Related Characters: Beneatha Younger (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Insurance Payment
Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:

Before this quote, Asagai has returned to the Younger home to help Beneatha with packing for the big move. Beneatha tells Asagai that Walter has lost rest of the insurance money. Asagai asks her how this makes her feel, and she replies, "Me, I'm nothing." Beneatha tells Asagai that when she was a child, she discovered she wanted to be a doctor when she saw a little boy get badly cut on the face while sledding. She realized then that "fixing" someone else was the most "marvelous thing in the world." Beneatha goes on to tell Asagai that after today, she's learned that there are things in this world that can't be fixed. Mankind is sick with something that seems incurable. Asagai tries to help, but Beneatha tells him that his "Back to Africa" ideals are silly and that they won't cure anything. Asagai is the ultimate idealist, but what comes after his ideas of independence? What is the point of fighting if people don't seem to ever change?  

Here we see Beneatha's tenacity and passion for self-discovery deflated by the loss of the insurance money. Without the money for her education she feels aimless, like she has lost who she is, and the result of this is that she feels betrayed by humanity itself.

Then isn’t there something wrong in a house – in a world! – where all dreams, good or bad, must depend on the death of a man? I never thought to see you like this, Alaiyo.

Related Characters: Joseph Asagai (speaker), Beneatha Younger
Related Symbols: The Insurance Payment
Page Number: 135
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote happens after Beneatha tells Asagai that she has given up on her dreams of becoming a doctor. She has also, in many ways, lost hope in the world. She no longer believes that  humanity can be cured of its problems.

Always an optimist and idealist, Asagai tells Beneatha that the first step for change is acting, having a voice. Beneatha tells him that nothing has changed, and that "there is only one large circle that we march in, around and around," and that dreams are all a "mirage".

Asagai argues that life isn't a circle but rather a long line. "We cannot see the end" or how it will change—we cannot see our dreams but they are there. Asagai then tells Beneatha that the money didn't belong to her, she has lived without it and wouldn't have had it at all if her father hadn't died. He even calls into question the morality of a dream built upon a man's death. Asagai is disappointed by Beneatha's aspirations for wealth and how easily her dreams have deteriorated—if her dreams were purer and stronger, Asagai seems to argue, they wouldn't be affected by such setbacks.


Don’t you see that they will be young men and women – not British soldiers then, but my own black countrymen – to step out of the shadows some evening and slit my then useless throat? Don’t you see they have always been there . . . that they will always be. And that such a thing as my own death will be an advance?

Related Characters: Joseph Asagai (speaker)
Page Number: 136
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote happens after Asagai tells Beneatha that he never expected her to cower when things got tough. He is saddened and shocked that she has placed so much weight on her dead father's insurance money. There is something disconcerting about dreams that only exist because someone has died. 

Beneatha challenges him, saying that she doesn't understand why he continues to work toward the impossible. Why does he continue to work toward aspirations that may never be realized? Asagai answers with "I Live the Answer!" He tells her that in his village in Nigeria, freedom is the ability to read and write. It isn't money or a house or a college education. He goes on to tell Beneatha that one day he will go home and people won't be able to understand what he is saying. But he will continue to teach and work until someone does. This may cause him to be killed by people who don't agree with him, or it may not. He may enact change or he may not. But he will incite others to speak and that possibility, the possibility of moving others to continue to fight and change the world is the important thing. 

This is a key moment in the discussion of race and discrimination in A Raisin In The Sun. Asagai speaks about legacy and the unknown, and how change, while often slow-moving, can happen. He represents the idealist and is an important voice in the narrative of the black community; an argument to keep fighting, keep learning, keep struggling to improve one's life. 


Talking ‘bout life, Mama. . . . Mama, you know it’s all divided up. Life is. Sure enough. Between the takers and the “tooken.” I’ve figured it out finally. Yeah. Some of us always getting “tooken.”

Related Characters: Walter Lee Younger (speaker), Lena Younger (Mama)
Related Symbols: The Insurance Payment
Page Number: 141
Explanation and Analysis:

Before this quote Mama tells the family that she doesn't think it's wise to move to Clybourne Park anymore. Ruth begs her not to make that decision. She tells Mama that she will work twenty hours a day with her newborn baby on her back but she must leave their Southside Chicago apartment. Walter enters and tells Mama and Ruth that he has made a call to "The Man" (Mr. Lindner).  He is going to invite him back to the house to do business with him. He goes on to say that he's realized that life is about people who take and people who are taken from. He then goes on to tell Mama and Ruth that he is going to "put on a show" for Lindner, perform as the stereotypical black man and give him what he wants to see, hoping that Lindner will pay a larger amount of money for the house so that the Youngers will make back the $10,000 they've lost. 

Here, Walter reasserts himself as the head of household. He also finally admits, although in a roundabout way, that he made a poor decision by giving up a large portion of the insurance money. This is his effort to fix the problem he's caused. However in doing so, by degrading himself before Mr. Lindner Walter is also stripping himself of his own identity, assimilating to the image of an inferior stereotype.

Son – I come from five generations of people who was slaves and sharecroppers – but ain’t nobody in my family never let nobody pay ‘em no money that was a way of telling us we wasn’t fit to walk the earth. We ain’t never been that poor. We ain’t never been that – dead inside.

Related Characters: Lena Younger (Mama) (speaker), Walter Lee Younger
Related Symbols: The Insurance Payment
Page Number: 143
Explanation and Analysis:

Before this quote, Walter tells Mama that he has called Mr. Lindner and asked him to return to discuss the house in Clybourne Park Mama has just purchased. Walter plans on striking a deal with Lindner and "putting on a show" for him. Mama is disappointed that Walter would belittle his pride and self-respect for a profit. She's devastated that Walter would even consider pretending to be the type of man Lindner and the white community of Clybourne park has stereotyped him to be.

For Mama, allowing themselves to be kicked out of Clybourne Park for being black, and taking a bribe to leave, is an act of submissiveness to the oppressor. They are giving into the pressures of a community of people who don't see them as equals. Here, Mama reminds Walter of her and thereby his history. Although their ancestors weren't free by law, they had pride and would never let anyone pay them money to admit that, by being black, they were inherently lesser or unequal. Self-respect is Mama's moral compass. Even though her life is unfair, her pride and dignity will always come first. 

Have you cried for that boy today? I don’t mean for yourself and for the family ‘cause we lost the money. I mean for him: what he been through and what it done to him. Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most? When they done good and made things easy for everybody? Well then, you ain’t through learning – because that ain’t the time at all. It’s when he’s at his lowest and can’t believe in hisself ‘cause the world done whipped him so!

Related Characters: Lena Younger (Mama) (speaker), Walter Lee Younger, Beneatha Younger
Related Symbols: The Insurance Payment
Page Number: 145
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote happens after Walter tells the family that he has asked Mr.Lindner to return to discuss striking a deal. Walter plans to negotiate with Lindner and try to make the money that he lost on his liquor store investment back.

Mama and Beneatha are devastated by this. Beneatha criticizes Walter for stooping so low that he would make a deal with a man who sees them as unfit to live in his community. Mama then reprimands Beneatha for her lack of empathy. She is upset that her children have been so selfish. Mama explains that she thought that she taught her children to love each other no matter what. In a time when the Younger family has had to face so much prejudice for simply being who they are, Mama begs Beneatha to love and empathize with her brother. He doesn't have anyone else, and in the face of so much poverty, racism, and bad luck, the family has to stick together.

And we have decided to move into our house because my father – my father – he earned it for us brick by brick. We don’t want to make no trouble for nobody or fight no causes, and we will try to be good neighbors. And that’s all we got to say about that. We don’t want your money.

Related Characters: Walter Lee Younger (speaker), Walter Younger (Big Walter)
Related Symbols: The Insurance Payment
Page Number: 148
Explanation and Analysis:

Mr. Lindner arrives back at the Younger home and expresses that he's happy that Walter has changed his mind about re-selling their new house in Clybourne Park. Walter asks Travis to go downstairs but Mama makes him stay, telling Walter she wants Travis to see what is going to happen, "where our five generations done come to." Nervously, Walter goes on to explain to Mr. Lindner that he comes from a long line of people with a lot of pride. He calls Travis over and explains that Travis will be the sixth generation of Youngers in America. Then, in an act of sudden bravery, Walter tells Lindner that they will keep the Clybourne Park house. Walter explains that his father earned that house and died for that house. His family has worked for five generations for that house, and they deserve it just as much as anyone else, white or black. 

Walter completely shifts his outlook on pride in this moment. Instead of seeing success and pride as linked to monetary wealth, he realizes that it is the groundwork of the people before him, the pride and dignity of his father and the generations before him, that are important. With his son—a symbol of the future—on his lap, Walter shows unwavering commitment to his family and his history, even in the face of the full power of institutional racism. 

He finally come into his manhood today, didn’t he? Kind of like a rainbow after the rain . . .

Related Characters: Lena Younger (Mama) (speaker), Walter Lee Younger
Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:

After Mr. Lindner leaves and the moving trucks are packed, Mama has a moment alone with Ruth before leaving their apartment for the last time. She tells Ruth that she thinks Walter has finally come into his own manhood. Like a rainbow after a storm, Walter's mistakes brought him closer to his own sense of self as well as giving him a newfound pride in his history and identity. After this moment, Mama takes one final look at the apartment, and she stares at her plant sitting on the table. She feels an overwhelming wave of an undefined emotion (pain? sadness? fear?) and sticks her fist in her mouth to hide the scream welling up inside her. The lights dim and then re-light as she comes back into the space to grab her beloved plant. She leaves and the play ends.

Here, although she never says it directly to him, Mama finally recognizes Walter as a man. After creating a massive problem for the family in losing their money, he has made the final decision to move the family to Clybourne park. Putting his family's best interest first, this decision was in an effort to provide a better life for Travis and to prove that the Younger family never has and never will stand down in the face of oppression. While she's proud of Walter, in this moment we also see Mama overcome with emotion. Here, Hansberry hints that although the rainbow has arrived, more rain may still be on its way.

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