Lorraine Hansberrys novel, A Raisin in the Sun, revolves around a middle-class African-American family, struggling during World War II. By reading about the Youngers true to life experiences, one learns many important life lessons. One of the aforementioned would be that a person should always put familys needs before their own. There are many examples of this throughout the novel. Just a few of these would be the example of Ruth and her unborn baby, Walter regaining the respect of his family, and Mama and her unselfish ways.
The first event that shows one should always put family before
oneself is the case of Ruth and her unborn baby. At first, Ruth is thinking about having an abortion, and has already paid a five-dollar down payment to the doctor. She explains to Walter her reasoning for such drastic measures by saying, IIm sorry about this new baby, Walter. I guess maybe I better go on and do what I started I guess I just didnt realize how bad things was with us I guess I just didnt realize.(87) Ruth is going to destroy this baby because she feels that she and Walter just do not have enough money to support another family member, and feels that she and Walter will only bring the baby into a world of fighting. Beneatha also has influence on Ruths decision by asking, where is he going to live? On the roof?(58). Beneatha feels that if Ruth has another baby it would just complicate the living situation, which is strenuous enough as it is. Later, even with all of this negative energy, Ruth comes to realize that she should not take the life of her baby and decides to keep it. One of her reasons for this change of heart is that her and Walter have been getting along much better, and their constant fighting was one of the main reasons she did not want to have the baby in the first place. Also, now that they are all moving into a new house, there will be enough room for the baby. In the end, although having an abortion seems like an easy way out, Ruth instead thinks about the babys life rather than her own, and chooses not to terminate her pregnancy.
Another example that proves this, is when Walter gives away his and Beneatha’s money to buy a liquor store, and loses it all. He then tries to get the money back by selling their new house to Mr. Lindner, although the only reason Mr. Lindner wants to buy it is because he and the other members of Clybourne Park do not want a black family living in their community. After the family tells him not to, Walter invites Mr. Lindner over to finalize the agreement. Walter even tells Mama what he is going to say: All right, Mr. Lindnerthats your neighborhood out there! You got the right to keep it like you want! You got the right to have it like you want! Just write the check andthe house is yours.(144) So even though Walter had his whole speech for Mr. Lindner planned out, he changes his mind at the last moment. The reason for this sudden change is because of the words his mother implied on him earlier. Mama told Walter, SonI come from five generations of people who was slaves and sharecroppersbut aint nobody in my family never let nobody payem no money that was a way of telling us we wasnt fit to walk the earth. We aint never been that poor. We aint never been thatdead inside.(143) Mama is saying that Walter will be disrespecting five generations of Youngers if he goes through with his plans. The statement Mama made helped Walter to realize that by selling the house he was only making himself feel better about the money being lost, but was making everyone else in the family lose more and more respect for him. To show just how upset the family was, Beneatha even told her mother, Love him? There is nothing left to love.(145) Beneatha feels that Walter has stooped so low this time that there is nothing there but a soulless body that cannot be loved. Walter makes amends between himself and his family by telling Mr. Lindner, We have decided to move into our house because my fathermy fatherhe earned it for us brick by brick. We dont want to make no trouble for nobody or fight no causes, we will try to be good neighbors. And thats all we got to say about that. We dont want your money.(148) Walter is saying that it is their house. They are going to live in it, and have earned the right to live wherever they please. Another thing that Walter learns through this ordeal is that he should think about how his actions can contribute to the pain of the people he loves, and not to think solely about the outcome concerning himself, but the outcome concerning others as well.
The third and final example of how a person should always think about family members before themselves is the way Mama is always doing thing to make her familys life less stressful. Mama is always trying to help out the family whenever she can. Walter even gets upset about this, saying, Mama, every time we need a new pair of curtains and I have to watch you go out and work in somebodys kitchen(71). Walter is saying that whenever the family needs things they cannot afford, Mama goes out and cleans other people kitchens, even though she is in her early sixties and has worked all her life. Another way that Mama puts her family before herself is when she gets the insurance money. Although it is Mamas money, she still uses it to buy the family a new house so that Travis would have a better place to grow up. Mama could have spent that money on something she wanted, but instead bought something that would make the whole family happy. After she buys their new house, Mama gives Beneatha $3000 dollars towards college and gives Walter $3500 dollars to better his future. Mama has given all of the insurance money to the people she cares about, and kept none of it for herself. She thought about her childrens future and decided to invest the money towards a better life for them. This is a very unselfish act on Mamas part, a perfect example of putting family before oneself.
Although sometimes people can get wrapped up in events that they feel only concern themselves, they should always take a moment to think about how their actions could be affecting the people they love. Friends will always come and go, but family is forever. If a person wants to stay close to their family, they have to consider things from both theirs and the other persons points of view. For love, people have to sacrifice things that they might not want to, but they have to love their families enough to help them before they help themselves.Words
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