Family Feud

“A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry is a popular play that has been adapted for both the Broadway stage and the movie screen. In Act II Scene 2, Walter is upset because Mama bought a house with the insurance check from his father’s death. Mama then reveals to Walter that she still has money left over after buying the house. She tells Walter she wants him to put money into the bank for Beneatha’s education, but she also wants him to open a savings account and put the money away for himself and his business. This is a very touching moment between Mama and Walter because for awhile, they have been clashing because of the difference of opinion of what the check should be used for. Though this part is an emotional moment between Walter and Mama, the movie and the book convey it differently, and makes the audience feel a different way. 

In the play, the interaction between Mama and Walter happens in their home. Walter has been having a rough couple of days because he feels like his dreams of becoming a successful businessman have been crushed due to Mama using the money for a new home. However, Mama talks with Walter in the house and gives him the news about what she wants to do with the check. After she tells him the important news, Mama leaves the room and Walter begins to celebrate. Travis, his son, thinks he is drunk, he states “Daddy ain’t going to never be drunk again…” (107). Walter is so happy and filled with joy, that all he wants to do is talk with his son. He begins to tell his son about how they are going to live a rich and fancy life, with a big house and nice cars, and their lives are going to be completely different from where they are at now. “You just name it son…and I hand you the world!” (109).  This moment in the story is something that feels emotional to the reader because you can sense a feeling of relief and accomplishment that comes over Walter. This is something he has wanted for so long, now that he has this money available to him he feels like he is one step closer to getting the life he has always wanted to live. 

The 1961 film adaptation of “A Raisin in the Sun” portrays this scene a little differently. After Mama finds out that Walter has not shown up at his job for the past three days, she asks Ruth which bar is the spot Walter always goes to drink. Ruth responds, and Mama heads out to find him. When she finally finds Walter, they sit down at a nearby booth and have a heart to heart. They do this in the play as well, only this time the setting is different. The deal that she makes with him is still the same, except this time, Walter sits there in disbelief and actually begins to cry. Instead of Walter going and talking to Travis, he goes home to find Ruth crying, and instead he lays with her to comfort her. Although the scene does not end up in celebration like the play, you can still tell that Walter is very grateful to Mama for giving him this opportunity.

Whether it is the play or in the book, the desperation that Mama feels to fix her family is evident. Although she thought that buying the house would fix all the family’s problems, she can tell that Walter will never be truly happy if he does not achieve his dreams. This is an important scene in the story because it shows their family dynamic. Even though they do not always see eye to eye, the members of the Younger family ultimately want to support each other and see each other happy. 

  1. How does Mama’s actions affect Walter and his relationship with his son? 
  2. If the story continues when Travis is older, how do you think he will take these opportunities that are being presented to him to better his life in the future? 

4 Replies to “Family Feud”

  1. Hello Miranda, I would like to respond to your discussion question regarding how Mama’s actions impact Walter and his relationship with his son. When Mama refuses to acknowledge Walter’s liquor store dream, he becomes very volatile in his actions. He gets drunk, raises his voice at family members, starts arguments, and misses work. In return, giving Mama more of a reason to tell Travis not to want to be like his father. On the other hand, when Mama finally gives Walter the money to chase his dreams, he starts to shower Travis with affection. We see them share a sweet scene in which Walter comes over to hug Travis, he tells his son “No, Daddy ain’t drunk. Daddy ain’t never going to be drunk again…(Hansberry 107). Walter makes a promise to his son to stop being drunk, as now he feels he will be able to finally have the family provider role. When Mama is not supportive of Walter, it negatively impacts his relationship with Travis. When Mama shows support, Walter is encouraged to reach his full potential as a father.

  2. Hey Miranda! I really enjoyed your post as it opened my eyes to how the relationship between Walter and Travis really operates. In Walter’s eyes, having money is the only way to attain his goals in life. He receives his money mostly from Mama, which he is greatly desperate for. Ultimately though, like you said, every member of the Younger family just wants happiness for all in the end. Therefore, Walter wants nothing less than eternal happiness for his son, Travis, and the only way he can accomplish is that through being financially successful. Following Mama’s approval and support of Walter’s formerly-distant dream of opening a liquor store, Walter expresses his devotion to making his son happy: “Whatever you want to be–Yessir! YOU just name it, son…and I hand you my word!” (Hansberry 109). This quote clarifies the fact that Mama’s distribution of the money allows Walter to offer more opportunities in life for Travis, and ultimately allows him (Walter) to be the parent his own father was.

  3. Hello Miranda,
    I really like the connection you make between the scenes where Mama gives Walter control of the money. The contrast between the reactions of pure joy and excitement, and the soft and powerful gratitude he shows in the bar, say a lot more than we might think it does. The scene that takes place in the movie shows Walter in a more mature light. We are led to believe that he really does appreciate and understand how important the responsibility of handling the money is for the family. In the play, his reaction of pure joy gives more of a sense that he is still a little immature at heart, and that Mama might be making a mistake. The stage directions outline his reactions clearly,”Walter’s voice has risen in pitch and hysterical promise and on the last line he lifts Travis high.”(Hansberry 109) The choice the directer made was a powerful one that changes the way we see Walter when it comes to responsibility and maturity.

  4. Hello Miranda! I liked your post in regards to Mama. Mama really is the rock of the family. She is always the one keeping order in the house and even supporting those who need to be supported. She saw that Walter would never been happy without accomplishing his dreams and did the best she could to make them possible. she says “Once upon a time freedom used to be life—now it’s money.”(105) which is my favorite quote from her in the entire book. If what she said was true, she was giving Walter the opportunity for freedom.

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