“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.
- How does Mama’s actions affect Walter and his relationship with his son?
- 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?