In my opinion, the most prevalent theme in, “A Raisin in the Sun” is the real meaning of money because all of the family members have dreams that require money in order for them to be fulfilled.
Walter is always trying to get money to open up a liquor store and believes that the only way he can be a successful man is if he reaches this goal. Throughout the book, Walter is envious of wealthy people and is somewhat embarrassed of his career of a chauffeur. He would like for his son to have a better life and wants him to have everything that he could ever want. While talking to Mama in the book, Walter states, “Mama, sometimes when I’m downtown and I pass by them cool, quiet-looking restaurants where them white boys are sitting back and talking bout things, turning deals worth millions of dollars, sometimes I see guys don’t look much older than me.” (page 73) Walter pays so much attention to these rich “white boys” and this causes him to not appreciate what he has, he just always wants more. Walter believes that if Mama gives him the money to invest in a liquor store then he will be successful. Mama doesn’t understand why Walter is so focused on money and she asks him, “Son-how come you talk so much ‘bout money?” Walter replies, “Because it is life, Mama!” (page 74)
Mama doesn’t see money as such a big necessity in life and believes more in family, love and faith. She tries to show Walter and Beneatha that not everything in life is about being wealthy and having money. For example, after Walter tells Mama that he thinks that money is life on page 74, she says, “Oh-So now it’s life. Money is life. Once upon a time freedom used to be life- now it’s money. I guess the world really do change…” (page 74) Mama is trying to teach Walter not to be so materialistic. She wants him to focus on other aspects of life that Walter just can’t seem to understand.
Also, when Mama says how the world is changing, she is talking about how money has a negative influence on the people of that time and how sad it is that money is such a necessity. During the conversation between Mama and Walter, Mama sys, “You something new, boy. In my time we was worried about not being lynched and getting to the North if we could and how to stay alive and still have a pinch of dignity too…” (page 74) Mama is talking about how Walter should appreciate his freedom and how in her time, they had to fight for their freedom and could care less about money.
Beneatha doesn’t seem to show as much interest in money until she realizes that all of her family’s money is one. In the beginning of the book, Beneatha is kind of the outcast of the family because she doesn’t seem too concerned about the money and has different views than the rest of the family. For example, Beneatha and Ruth had a conversation about why Beneatha won’t marry George and Beneatha says, “Oh, I just mean I couldn’t ever really be serious with George. He’s- he’s so shallow.” Ruth replies, “Shallow- what do you mean he’s shallow? He’s rich!” Beneatha then says, “I know he’s rich. He knows he’s rich too.” (page 48-49) Beneatha wants more from a man than money, she has more depth than that. She is an independent woman and refuses to marry someone just because they are wealthy.
In the beginning, Beneatha isn’t too focused on money; however, she comes to the realization that in order to fulfill her dream of being a doctor, she needs money for medical school. When Walter lost all of the family’s money, ruining any chance of Beneatha becoming a doctor she tells Asagai, “Asagai, while I was sleeping in that bed there, people went out and took the future right out of my hands! And nobody asked me, nobody consulted me- they just went and changed my life!” (page 134)