While reading A Raisin in the Sun, one learns much about the values of the characters in the story, especially of Mama and Walter. Through the dialogue and actions of the two characters, we learn that the value systems of Mama and Walter are extremely different, and even sometimes contradictory. Mama s greatest value is family, while Walter s values evolve only around fame, power, and wealth. As a result of their radically different value systems, Mama and Walter s motivations, actions, and relationships are different and sometimes even conflicting.
The conflicting value systems of Mama and Walter cause them to have conflicting motivations. Since Mama s values center around her family, she is motivated by the desire to make her family be happier. Walter values power, fame, and wealth, therefore, he is highly motivated by money. Mama, who has no value for money, is not motivated by money, and Walter, who has little interest in family, is not concerned about making his family happier. These contrasting motivations are seen when comparing the two characters reactions to the coming of Mama s ten thousand dollar insurance check. To Mama, it was “just a check’ (pg.
211), but to Walter it was much more. He viewed the check as an investment that would result in riches such as “a plain black Chrysler a Cadillac convertible’ (pg. 232), and his own gardener. These contrasting motivations demonstrate Mama s and Walter s values; Mama saw the check as money and nothing more, while Walter saw it as wonderful riches and power. Walter s and Mama s reactions to another incident, the loss of sixty percent of the money to a thief, is a second example of the two character s different motivations caused by their different values.
... the Younger family as it has been passed down throughout five generations. Characters Walter Lee Younger and Lena Eggleston Younger (Mama) are two characters that ... help his current family standing in society. On page 79, act two, scene two, Mama entrusted the insurance money into Walter’s hand ... he and Bobo would go to Springfield to spread some money around so that they can get the liquor license ...
Walter s reaction of tears and hysteria to the loss of money are emotions caused by the loss of his hope for fame, riches, and power. Mama, on the other hand, expressed anger and sadness at the loss of the money because it represented the “working and working and working (of her husband) like somebody s old horse’ (pg. 247), and now all these hours have been for not. She was not mad at the loss of money that could make her rich; she was horrified at the wasted hard work of a family member. Also, she is angered at the loss of money that would go to pay the college education of Benet ha, another family member.
Walter, on the other hand, only sees the loss of wealth as the issue. In addition to conflicting motivations, different value systems cause Walter and Mama to have extremely different actions. In the story, Walter and Mama make important decisions with money that reflect their value systems. Mama values family, so she acts according to what will make her family the happiest. One decision Mama makes regards to what she wants to do with the ten thousand dollar insurance money.
When seeing her family “falling to pieces,’ (pg. 227) Mama uses the money to buy a new house. Following her values, Mama decides that buying a new house would help her family “push on (to happier lives).’ Mama has many other options for the money, but she does what she finds most important; helping her family to be happier. Walter, on the other hand, values wealth, power, and fame, therefore does what he thinks will make him rich and powerful in the future. When Mama gives Walter control of sixty percent of the insurance money, he immediately invests the money in a liquor store, which he predicts is the business deal “that s going to change (his) life.’ (pg. 232) Walter does not invest just some of the money in the liqour store, he invested the whole amount, including his sisters college money.
This furthermore demonstrates how little Walter values family and how great he values wealth. Walter disregards the dream of his own sister for the chance to become wealthy and powerful. In a second desperate act for wealth, Walter calls up the white man in charge of their new neighborhood with the intention of accepting the money that was offered in return for their departure from this community with a “common background,’ (pg. 238) that being their white skin. Here, Walter s value for wealth and money is so strong, it overcomes his own pride. Walter was willing to let a white man pay him money as a way of saying he is too inferior to live among white people.
... how much money Walter has, he will never be happy unless he has a family that loves him. Before Walter goes out to invest in ... need more money to make him happy. He should be grateful for what he has instead of worrying about money. Mama talks to Walter about ... his family is more important than money, and decides to move to the white neighborhood like Mama wants. He knows that money won't make ...
Although Walter does not end up making the deal with the white man, he still for a period of time had the intention. This, alone, makes it clear that Walter values money and wealth more than anything, even his own self respectability. The difference in Mama s and Walter s actions with money are immense and even contradictory. Mama uses the money to help her family and does not even think about investing it to make more. She has no value for money, just the happiness of her family.
Going against Mama s values is Walter, who destroys the dream of one of the family in the attempt of gaining what he values most; money. Along with different and conflicting motivations and actions, the different value systems of Mama and Walter result in very different relationships. Walters value of wealth totally determines the relationships he has with other family members. When he is without money he can invest, his relationships with his family are stressful, angry, and filled with fighting. Walter is mad at his wife, Ruth, for getting tired of listening to his nonstop talk about money and investing. He is annoyed and constantly fighting with his sister for “wasting’ money on her education; money that could be used in investing.
Lastly, Walter is resentful toward his mother for not letting him invest her insurance money in a liqour store. He is even more resentful when she uses the money to buy a house; something that does not lead to the wealth Walter values so. All in all, when Walter is without money to make him feel wealthy, he is a wretched person to carry on a relationship with. On the other hand, when Walter is entrusted with sixty five thousand dollars, he is a totally different person. He is so much happier that he laughs, kisses, and spontaneously dances with his with wife. He no longer bickers with his sister about her education, but rather kindly teases, laughs, and jokes with her.
... problems, but he is rarely successful with money. Walter often fights and argues with Ruth, Mama, and Beneatha. Far from being a good ... seem to understand that he must pay attention to his family members' concerns in order to help them. Eventually, he realizes ... not have the money, but now that his mama gave him the money, he had an idea. He decided to invest in the store ...
Lastly, Walter joyfully gives gifts to his mother and kindly teases her. From without money to with it, Walter turns from a depressed angry individual that is had to get along with, to a kind, joking, smiling, and happy person. Mama s relationships are much more consistent due to her value of family. She gets along with all her family members.
The times she is stern and angry at her family members is when she sees them fight. Mama gets mad at Walter when he has destroyed the dream of his sister by loosing the money. Even despite what Walter has done to Beneath a, Mama gets furious at her for insulting her brother because of his mistake. All Mama cares about is peace and happiness of her family, so disturbing this happiness is the one way to anger Mama. When comparing Mama s and Walters relationships, it is clear that their different values result in different relationships. Mama gets along with each family member as long as they attempt to keep the peace of the family.
This comes from Mama s value of family. Walter gets along with the family only when he has a feeling of wealth, originating from his value of money. Mama and Walter are two very different individuals with very different value systems. Mama value most the happiness of her family. Walter values money, wealth, power and fame far beyond anything. As a result of their different value systems, Mama and Walter have conflicting, and even contradictory motivations, actions, and relationships..