In a Raisin in the Sun and Clybourne Park there were a lot of things that ran almost parallel with both books. Of course, first would be the house that Lena bought moved into at the end of A Raisin in the Sun but even deeper than that. Both books touched some social subjects that at the time of A Raisin in the Sun’s release were rarely mentioned by an African-American especially a female African-American. The subject that grabbed my attention was that every main character had one thing in common; they all had dreams. Each of their dreams in one way or another were dreams of wealth.
Now, of course everyone has different values so their ideas of wealth varied as well. The struggle for wealth in A Raisin in the Sun was the Younger’s pursuit of the “American Dream”. Walter decided he would have to take it upon himself to support this family. He wanted the money that Lena got from the passing of her husband to buy into a business plan that he thought would work out perfectly. As anyone would be, Lena was hesitant about giving any money to Walter once she found out he was planning to go into a business deal with Bobo and Willy and even more since it was going towards a liquor store.
As the story progressed Walter was given a share of the money, but his greed moved him to take Beneatha’s share as well. Walter’s thirst for material wealth pushed him to lose the money he was trusted with. Material wealth seems to be what a lot people chase after today. In the minds of many it’s all about who has the nicest stuff and who has the most money. Walter saw that as his chance for the American dream. From the time A Raisin in the Sun starts Walter is complaining about what could be.
Talking about having to share a bathroom then to what he could’ve made if he got in the dry cleaning business with Willy. The further A Raisin in the Sun goes Walter begins to let his thirst for money get in the way of his family. Walter begins heavily drinking and even acts uncaring at the fact of his wife looking into getting an abortion. That’s the same way that even people today let their thirst for wealth (material) overcome their whole lives. In the first act of Clybourne Park a totally different set of values put forth a new idea of the American dream.
Karl Linder is a character that made appearances in the end of A Raisin in the Sun and continued as the same character in the first act of Clybourne Park. Karl’s idea of the perfect American dream was more of having a wealth of social status. His wealth mostly revolves around living in a perfect community. To him a perfect community was a neighborhood free of African-Americans, and in the end of A Raisin in the Sun and the first act of Clybourne Park he is trying anything he can to make sure it stays that way.
At the end of A Raisin in the Sun he enters the Younger’s apartment trying to convince them to take a deal giving them more money than the new house is actually worth, but in the mind of the Youngers that is putting their pride at risk. Karl then says, “…. I want you to believe me when I tell you that race prejudice simply doesn’t enter into it. It is a matter of the people of Clybourne Park believing, rightly or wrongly, as I say, that for the happiness of all concerned that our Negro families are happier when they live in their own communities. 2. 3. 65). In my mind, he isn’t helping his cause of them thinking he is racist by saying this. Clybourne Park opens up with that offer having been turned down and Karl freaking out trying to find a way to keep the selling of the house from going through. All the way from wanting to get the loan denied to telling the Younger’s the real reason the house was for sale so inexpensive. Karl tries to say that the “colored” family moving in would affect the fact that their neighborhood is a progressive neighborhood.
Implying that the African-Americans would affect the progressiveness of the neighborhood, but he tries to save himself by mentioning that he and the community embrace different ways of thinking and uses Gelman’s grocery store as an example since they hired the Wheeler boy who was a little off. Karl then says, “…fitting into a community is really what it all comes down to”; implying once again that he has the Younger’s best interest in mind. He keeps this going by saying the African-Americans wouldn’t have “their” things in the grocery store.
For some reason Karl’s main worry is having a “perfect white” neighborhood, but that shows how skewed some people’s views were at that time and it’s sad to think that some people still haven’t made any progress on that subject to this day. Act II begins in a totally different time for the neighborhood fifty years from where Act I left off. The neighborhood is now majority African-American and the house the Younger’s moved into is worn down. The book explains how the fanciness of the house has been replaced by cheaper additions and the wooden mantle place has visually been painted over many times.
In this act the name Lena pops up again being that it is fifty years later this is just a descendant of the Lena Younger from A Raisin in the Sun. Lena explains that her great aunt was one of the first African-Americans to move into Clybourne Park. She values things a lot differently than Karl or Walter. Lena’s wealth lies within herself (could be considered an emotional/spiritual wealth). Lena’s main goal has nothing to do with how much she makes or who may move in, but just that she will stay where her great aunt first moved into Clybourne Park.
Lena believes she can’t move out because she is a part of one of the first African-American families to live in Clybourne Park. The more she explains the changes the more people like Steve think she’s racist. I wouldn’t necessarily say she’s racist. Just proud of where she came from and wanting to keep it the way it has become. So between all three of these characters they share the fact that they have dreams of wealth and how to achieve the American dream, but have different ideas of what that exactly means.
Whether it is material wealth, social wealth, or emotional/spiritual wealth; all three of them wanted one thing and that was highest value of their unique ideas of wealth. Material wealth dealing with material things or the money to get the things you want. Just how Walter wanted the big house, the high paying job, and the clothes the people with the good jobs got. Social wealth being an imaginary perfect society, like how Karl felt about the neighborhood and how he thought the neighborhood would be a better place without an African-American presence.
Then emotional/spiritual wealth deals with being able to achieve the American dream or be “wealthy” all within oneself. Lena felt this way when mentioning how no matter how poor she is, she wouldn’t move away from this house because her great-aunt worked so hard to get her family to this neighborhood. One could make an argument that none of the three characters are comparable at all, but they all have dreams; dreams that one day they will reach the American dream and will become wealthy.
The contrasting variable is that the characters’ values and ideas of wealth are totally different, but one must realize that Karl and Walter were both based in a time that in ways was a lot different from now. So things that didn’t seem very acceptable, the way Karl acted towards African-Americans, was something a lot more common at that time. In conclusion, everyone including you and me have dreams and believe in a certain wealth. The only question is what is our wealth?
Courtney from Study Moose
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