A Raisin in the Sun

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The Insurance Payment Symbol Analysis

The Insurance Payment Symbol Icon
The insurance payment that results from Big Walter’s death illustrates the tremendous sacrifice that makes at least some of the Youngers’ dreams a reality. As Mama tells Ruth, Big Walter “finally worked hisself to death” in an effort to support his family financially, procuring a $10,000 life insurance policy that would provide for his family after his death. In the hope of helping his children achieve their dreams, Big Walter sacrificed himself to give his family the opportunity for a better life. Knowing that racial prejudice prevented him from obtaining a house and a fulfilling job during his own lifetime, Big Walter’s sacrifice symbolizes the efforts that generations of African Americans made to give their children’s dreams a chance for success. The extreme nature of Big Walter’s sacrifice shows the extent to which racism limited African Americans’ opportunities for social advancement, but the insurance payment also gives purpose to Big Walter’s death and epitomizes the hope and dignity of the Younger family. Conversely, the frequent arguments between the Youngers that result from the insurance payment signify the divisive power of money.
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The Insurance Payment Symbol Timeline in A Raisin in the Sun

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Insurance Payment appears in A Raisin in the Sun. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Dreams Theme Icon
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
...the conversation promptly circles back to the anticipated check, which Mama reveals is a $10,000 insurance payment resulting from her husband’s recent death. Mama declares that some of the money must be... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
...as he keeps a “good lookout” for the postman, who is supposed to deliver the insurance check that morning. After Travis exits, Beneatha asks Mama where Ruth is, and Mama says “with... (full context)
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
...the doorbell rings, a sudden sound that signals that the mailman has arrived with the insurance check . Ruth sends Travis downstairs to get it. Travis returns moments later and Mama opens... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
Walter rushes into the apartment and immediately asks to see the insurance check . He launches into a discussion of his proposal to use the money as an... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Dreams Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
...“to tend to some business.” Walter angrily worries that she did “something crazy” with the insurance money . Travis enters and tries to explain his lateness, but Ruth cuts him off and... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Dreams Theme Icon
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
...a down payment on the house. She gives control over the remaining $6,500 of the insurance payment to Walter. She tells him to put $3,000 in a savings account for Beneatha’s schooling... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
Dreams Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
Mama goes to Walter and asks him if all of the insurance money is in fact gone. Walter admits that he never went to the bank and never... (full context)
Act 3
Dreams Theme Icon
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
An hour later, Walter’s loss of the insurance money fills the apartment with “a sullen light of gloom.” Asagai enters the apartment to visit... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
Beneatha laments that with the loss of the insurance money her dream for the future has been stolen “right out of my hands.” Asagai asks... (full context)
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
...the world done whipped him so!” Mama tells Beneatha to mourn her brother, not the insurance money that he lost. (full context)