Mama’s feeble plant represents her family’s deferred dreams for a better future, which have struggled to survive under the strain of life in Chicago’s South Side. Mama’s unending devotion to her small houseplant signifies her constant care for her family and her attention to its dreams. “Growing doggedly” in a small pot by the apartment’s kitchen window, Mama’s plant has “spirit,” despite the fact that “this little old plant . . . ain’t never had enough sunshine or nothing.” Like the plant, the Youngers have struggled to overcome the circumstances, such as racial prejudice, that curb their growth and social mobility. Mama dreams of owning a house with a small garden, and until the play’s conclusion her plant is as “close as I ever got” to achieving that dream. In the final moments of the play, Mama picks up her plant and leaves the South Side apartment for the last time, showing that this symbol of perseverance will accompany the family as it faces new challenges in Clybourne Park.
Mama’s Plant Symbol Timeline in A Raisin in the Sun
The timeline below shows where the symbol Mama’s Plant appears in A Raisin in the Sun. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
...between me and them that don’t let us understand each other.” Tending to her struggling plant by the apartment’s tiny window, she continues to think aloud and, with her back to... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
...relate the story of Lindner’s visit. Visibly concerned by this news, Mama tends to her plant and asks whether Lindner threatened the family. Beneatha explains that Lindner’s efforts were much more... (full context)
Beneatha “laughingly” notices that Mama is carefully tending to her plant during this conversation. She asks Mama what she is doing, and Mama replies that she... (full context)
...“gruffly” but very happily telling Walter to leave her alone while she tends to her plant. Walter “sweetly” and “playfully” begins to sing, and Ruth brings Mama the package that Walter... (full context)
Ruth enters, followed shortly by Mama. Mama seems “lost.” She picks up her plant from the table and returns it to its former spot by the window. She asks... (full context)
...stifles a cry. She exits the apartment only to reenter a moment later, retrieving her plant and leaving for the final time. (full context)