“The future, Mama. Hanging over there at the edge of my days. Just waiting for me, a big, looming blank space—full of nothing. Just waiting for me.” - (Walter Younger, p.814) A Raisin in the Sun is a play about inequality by Lorraine Hansberry about an African American family in Chicago. Walter Younger is a desperate man willing to do anything to get what he wants. Walter is the protagonist of A Raisin in the Sun, because he goes through several major transformations from the beginning of the play to the end and he plays a large part in each of the major conflicts.
Walter is the character in A Raisin in the Sun who changes the most. Walter’s first major transformation is from a desperate and selfish man to one who puts the needs of his family first. Walter is obsessed with convincing his mother, Lena, to give him the insurance money from his father’s death to invest in a liquor store. Walter’s selfishness leads him to try and convince his wife, Ruth, to speak to his mother for him on his behalf “Mama would listen to you. You know she listens to you more than she do me and Bennie. She think more of you. All you have to do is just sit down with her when you drinking your coffee one morning and talking ‘bout things like you do” (794). Walter shows that he is desperate in the opening of the play by quietly supporting his wife’s decision to have their baby aborted, “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...” (Lena, 814) Walter never responds. Once Walter finally convinces Mama to give him the insurance money the audience sees him hopeful for the first time, “You know what, Travis? In seven years you going to be seventeen years old. And things is going to be very different with us in seven years. Travis... One day when you are seventeen I’ll come home—home from my office downtown somewhere--” (Walter to Travis, 828) he really believes his life is about to change for the better, and he is excited to give his son the things they could never afford. Walter’s biggest transformation comes at the end of the play; after telling Mr. Lindner that their family won’t sell their new house back to him. Walter goes from a selfish man willing to do anything to get ahead; to the head of the family-- a man who will make a decision that is best for his family.
Walter is present during all major conflicts in A Raisin in the Sun; he is also the cause of most conflicts from his poor decision-making. “You contented son-of-a-bitch—you happy? You got it made? Bitter? Man, I’m a volcano.” (Walter to George, 819) Walter creates conflict with George because he is jealous of him. After Mama buys a house; Walter is offended by her decision, “So you butchered up a dream of mine—you—who always talking ‘bout your children’s dreams...” (824), he is trying to guilt Mama into giving him some of the insurance money. Walter goes out and loses all the insurance money he is given, which leads to a big fight between him and his mother, “[Mama stops and looks at her son without recognition and then, quite without thinking about it, starts to beat him senselessly in the face...]” (839). In the end, Walter throws Mr. Lindner out of his apartment after making the decision to keep the house, “We don’t want to make no trouble for nobody or fight no causes—but we will try to be good neighbors. That’s all we got to say... We don’t want your money.” (849) the biggest decision in the play was made by Walter. Each decision made by Walter led to all major conflicts in A Raisin in the Sun.
Walter Younger’s transformation from selfish and desperate to making decisions that are best for his family; and his involvement in almost all the action in the play prove that he is the protagonist of A Raisin in the Sun. His choices may not be the best in the beginning, but he is the catalyst for the entire story from beginning to end. “You just name it, son... and I’ll hand you the world.” (829)
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