Walter Lee Younger's Characteristics

Topics: African American, A Raisin in the Sun, Tell Pages: 5 (1948 words) Published: May 5, 2012
Walter Lee Youngers’ Characteristics
In the 1920’s, many African-American families had left the southern states and migrated north to Chicago’s South Side in search of the “American Dream”, dreaming of freedom, equality, and the opportunity that was supposed to be available to every American. This “American Dream” was sought by many African Americans in the U.S. Written by Lorraine Hansberry and produced in 1959, The play: A Raisin in the Sun, gave readers a strong meaning about the values of dreams and the struggles in fulfilling them. Unlike other plays that contain one main character, A Raisin in the Sun consisted of having two main characters: Walter and Mama. The audience may find that one of the main characters from the play, Walter, showed a hard time in understanding the values of dreams. The audience may also find Walter’s character to be portrayed as both: a sympathetic and an unsympathetic representation of African-American men in Chicago’s Southside during the 1950-1960’s.

The play takes place between 1945 and 1959 in Chicago’s South Side during , and begins with the Younger family waiting to receive an insurance check for the death of Mama’s husband Walter Sr. Each of the family members has their own dream and plan on how the check should be used. The character of the Younger family include: Lena Younger “Mama” who is in her 60’s and is the matriarch of the family, her son Walter Lee Younger a 35-year old chauffeur, his wife Ruth, their son Travis and Beneatha Younger, Walter’s 20-year old sister that is attending college and studying to become a doctor. The Younger’s each disagree with each other, resulting in the entire family arguing and fighting over how to spend the $10,000 check. Mama wants to use the money to buy a house and fulfill the dreams her and her husband shared. Ruth agrees with Mama and also wants a house and better opportunities for Travis. Beneatha needs the money to pay her tuition for medical school. Throughout the entire play, the Younger family struggles individually trying to achieve each of their dreams, and Walter’s dream to invest in a liquor store, results in his family losing all of the money. By the end of the play, the Youngers come to realize that their dream of owning a house is the most important dream because a house is what unites families. Readers are likely to identify Walter’s character in the play with many reactions. Some readers may dislike his character finding Walter to be unsympathetic. For instance: readers may feel that Walter’s character is presented as being an insensitive and uncaring husband, brother and son by the way he treats and belittles the women in his family, they may also find him as being inconsiderate, unsupportive and selfish. One example of Walter acting unsupportive is located in the beginning of Act I, scene I. Rather than supporting his wife Ruth, when she told Travis that they were unable to give him the fifty cents, Walter takes it upon himself giving his son money that they really are not able to afford to give him. It is early Friday morning and Ruth is in the kitchen fixing breakfast. Travis tells his mother that he needs fifty cents for school. Ruth responds by telling him she doesn’t have the money. As Walter enters the room, overhearing their conversation, he gives Travis the money and said, “In fact, here is another fifty cents . . . Buy yourself some fruit today or take a taxicab to school or something.,” (1.1, 1132). Walter’s character provides a perspective of the average African-American male. He also presented as being a typical man of the house, who is in charge of all the decision making. In addition, that same morning after Travis leaves for school, Walter is sitting at the kitchen table talking with Ruth as he waits for his breakfast. He tells her of his plans that he and his friends Willy and Bobo made to invest in a liquor store, along with his plans to use some of the money, his Mama is...
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