Money is an object, but would one ever think about it as something more? In Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, money is much more than a thing, it means something different to every character in the play. To this family money seems like it is a little more than just money and that it represents something they want in life. The family does not have a lot of money, but they will soon receive a life insurance check, in which they all have their own ideas on how to use it. Along with the ideas from each character, there is symbolism to the money.
To start with the ideas that each character brings up during the first act of the play, three of the characters have their very own, unique things they would want to see the money go toward. Mama would like to use the money to pay for Beneatha’s medical school funds, while Beneatha herself would like for her mother to keep the money and use it for an extravagant trip or vacation. Beneatha’s brother, Walter had his own idea of where the money should go that would only be beneficial to him. He would want to take the money and open a liquor store, which he believed would help make more money for the family, but he can not be positive on that thought. This leads into the more symbolic representations of the money. The ideas of where the money should go reflect the character’s personalities as well as show the symbolism of money specifically to each character.
For the actual symbolism and representation of money by each character Mama is a good example to start. Given that she wants to help her daughter go through medical school, money symbolizes hope for her daughter, and frankly herself. She believes in her daughter and that if she wants to do something, she will do it which is why she wants to give her daughter the money. She knows that if her daughter becomes a doctor one day, she will probably help her mother with money. This explains why the money represents and symbolizes hope for Mama. Money also symbolizes love for Mama. This is because the mother is focusing on her children before herself which is symbolic of her husband’s love for his children. It was stated that he loved his children beyond words and Mama was just following that love from her late husband. For Beneatha, the money is symbolic of help for her mother. She knows how much her mother went through and she wants to give her the best life possible. Beneatha believes her mother should keep the money because it will help her mentally and help her feel more stable in life and their current situation, whether she uses it to go on a trip or keeps it for further use. Walter is the character that seems the most greedy with the money. It does not seem like he wants the money to help anyone but himself. For him the money symbolizes happiness. He believes that he needs money in life to be happy and have a great life which is why he is trying to open a liquor store with the life insurance check.
For all the characters money represents freedom and security at some level. The freedom comes from the ability to do a lot with the money. In the play, it is talked about that the family could get a new home, one that is bigger and more fit for the family. The family will be able to do more than before because of the increased funds in the household whatever way it is used. The money is also representative and symbolic of security for the family. Money usually represents security for many people but for the Younger family specifically, it means more. They do not have a lot of money and the addition of the check to their bank account would allow the family to feel more secure, especially Mama. Money is something that does not mean a lot from the surface but the true symbolism of money emerges when put into deep thought.
Do the symbolic meanings of money foreshadow anything to the readers about the Younger family?
How does the money symbolize a connection to other symbols throughout the play, more specifically through the rest of act one, such as Mama’s plant?