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A Raisin in the Sun – “Success” Essay

Success. Webster’s dictionary defines it as “The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted; the gaining of fame or prosperity.”Although to truly understand the meaning of success, one needs to understand the relationship between success and goals. Success can simply be accomplishing your goals, but can also have a deeper meaning, such as personal growth. In the book A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry, the Younger’s, Walter and Lena especially, are portrayed as a typical African American family in the 1950’s, trying to fight the prejudices that haunt every aspect of their lives. Lorraine Hansberry takes us through the journey of the Younger’s as they attempt to accomplish their dreams and achieve success. Overall, despite the obstacles they face such as racism, sexism, and dishonesty, Walter Lee and Lena “Mamma” Younger achieve success to certain extents; Walter achieves complete personal success and Mamma is completely successful in her goal to buy a house for her children and Travis.

Walter Lee Younger reaches personal success by achieving personal growth and improvement. In the beginning of this book, Walter is irresponsible and selfish which is shown through many occasions such when Mama tells Walter “Ruth is thinking ‘bout getting rid of that child.” (75) And later “Walter… has obviously been drinking.” (pg. 77) Essentially, Walter learns that his wife is pregnant and thinking of getting an abortion, and being the irresponsible selfish man he was, he went out and got drunk. Additionally, we learn that Walters’s investment did not work out and Mama asks him about his sister Beneetha’s money and he says “Mama… I never… went to the bank at all…” (pg. 129) This quote indicates how utterly conceited he really was, to throw all of his sister’s money laid out for her tuition just for his own investment.

It also shows that he no longer has any self worth or pride in himself or his family, which is obviously greatly valued throughout the family. At the end he ends up losing the money, for which most people would look at him as unsuccessful, but at the end of the book, he truly does he redeem himself. On pg. 148 Walter invites Linder over and intends on forfeiting any pride left and getting on his knees to beg for money, but instead something incredible happens.

His intended message was forgotten when he looks upon his son and family and a renewed sense of self worth and value possesses him as he says “We have decided to move into our house because my father- my father- has earned it for us brick by brick… we don’t want to make no trouble for nobody or fight no causes, and we will try to be good neighbors.” (148) Through this one quote, Walter’s self growth is apparent as he finally stands up for his family and transitions into an honest, caring man as opposed to the selfish boy he was at the beginning of the book . As a result of this personal growth, Walter Lee Younger has attained absolute personal success.

Throughout the book A Raisin in the Sun, Lena Younger, aka Mama, has been portrayed as the overbearing, but caring mother and grandmother whose main goal seems to be to buy a real house for her children and grandchild. This goal is made apparent on when she finally buys the house and says “Well- at least let me tell him something, I want him to be the first one to hear… Come here, Travis.” (pg. 90) This quote shows her obvious love and fondness for her beloved grandson and later on she says “You glad about the house? It’s going to be yours when you get to be a man.” (pg. 91)

These quotes clarify her dreams to move into a new house to make Travis happy and they are accomplished when after Walter’s speech, Linder questions her approval and she firmly states that “My son said we was going to move and there ain’t nothing left for me to say.” (148) Lorraine Hansberry then ends her book with the Younger’s finally leaving their apartment behind, showing that in the end, Mama did accomplish her dream and was successful in her goal of moving into a new house for her family.

Throughout Lorraine Hansberry’s novel A Raisin in the Sun, Lena and Walter Lee Younger face many prejudices and obstacles in the way of accomplishing their dreams, but in the end they are successful.


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