Essay about The Common Motivator

Submitted By adagioliggin
Words: 1376
Pages: 6

The Common Motivator

Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun depicts an African American family living in the South-side of Chicago at a time when African Americans were treated unequally and looked upon as the inferior race. In the play, the reader is introduced to the Younger family; a diverse group of people all living in the same cramped, old, cockroach-ridden apartment. Each member of the family has their own ambitions: Beneatha wishes to go to medical school to become a doctor, Mama wants to move her family into a bigger, better house, Ruth simply wants to live happily with her family, and Walter wants to open a liquor store. All of the Younger’s dreams can only be made with one thing: a life insurance check from a dead family member. With this check, worth ten thousand dollars, anyone of the Younger’s could potentially accomplish their dreams. With such big dreams, one must ask themselves a simple question when reading Hansberry’s play: why? Why have such big dreams in a world where no one believes they will happen? The answer to that is the Youngers wish to better themselves in a society in which they are looked down upon just because they are black. Because they are black, they are expected to live in the “ghetto” and never amount to anything, never to be equal to whites. This is made evident throughout the play with excessive remarks from both whites and blacks about a black person’s status in the time period. No longer does Walter wish to be a chauffeur where the only thing he says is “Yes, Sir” or “No, Sir”; no longer does Mama wish to live in the same, over crowded apartment that her people are expected to live in; no longer does Beneatha want to be looked as just another black girl; no longer does Ruth wish to live in sadness with a family that is unhappy just because a white society says they have to be. Walter has a dream of opening a liquor store with the ten thousand dollars. Unfortunately for Walter, no one else believes his dream can come true, and no one wants to believe it because the dream involves alcohol, something which all the other main characters frown upon. The drive for Walter’s dream is for him to be different from all the other black people in Chicago. Walter wants to be better than all of them; Walter wants to be on a level that is equal to, if not greater than, a white man’s. Another large motivation for Walter’s dream is his son, Travis. Walter wants Travis to have a childhood he could be happy about looking back and truly believes that his dream will be successful and promises to Travis that he can “give him the world” once his dream comes true. When Hansberry writes, “ Just tell me where you want to go to school and you’ll go. Just tell me, what it is you want to be-and you’ll be it… You just name it, son… and I hand you the world!” (2.2.131-35), this depicts the life that Walter wants Travis to have, one where he is not just another uneducated black man, one where Travis has an equal opportunity to be the best, one where Travis’s potential isn’t stifled by something like money. Walter simply wants not only himself, but also Travis and the rest of his family to rise above the social barriers placed upon them by the white man and better them in society. Beneatha aspires to become a doctor, and being described as very fickle, her family doesn’t believe in her. The family makes jokes about her becoming a doctor as if it won’t happen because she never follows through with anything. Beneatha’s dream to become a doctor challenges the barriers put onto both women and blacks of the time period. Beneatha has the drive and desire to become a doctor, and refuses to let anyone stop that from coming true. When Hansberry writes “And forgive me for ever wanting to be anything at all! FORGIVE ME, FORGIVE ME, FORGIVE ME!” (1.1.123-24), Beneatha is sarcastically apologizing for having dreams that Walter deems impossible. Beneatha is determined and makes sure that everyone in the house knows