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Raisin in the Sun - The Plant

Updated on February 24, 2011

A Raisin in the Sun

Lorraine Hansberry and the Plant in A Raisin in the Sun

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry is a play about the tough life that colored people in the Urban United States, are forced to deal with. Every character in the story displays some sort of drive, or motivation toward something bigger and better throughout the play. A recurring theme is seen in which Mama, the matriarchal head of the household, is shown taking care of a potted plant that sits on the window sill. This plant is symbolic and represents Mama's care and her dreams for the family.

The plant is first seen when Mama moves toward the window sill and admits that the plant never gets enough water or light, but takes pride in how it still manages to flourish under her care. She cares for the plant just as she cares for the children. She gives the plant unconditional and unstoppable love, and of course, direction. The environment in which the plant occupies is less-than-perfect, with the lack of sunlight, and fresh air. The apartment the Youngers occupy also seems to be unfulfilling and less-than-perfect.

As we progress through the play we become aware that the family is inheriting $10,000 of insurance money from the death of their father. As a result everyone has their own plans and ideas on what to do with the money. For example Beneatha, Mama's daughter, sees the money as a chance to pursue her medical career. And the oldest son, Walter becomes obsessed with business and wants to invest in a liquor store some of his friends are planning on building. But Mama proposes the idea of moving to this new elite white neighborhood called Clybourne Park, which becomes the next step in all of their lives.

The plant symbolizes this dream to own a house, and more specifically, to own a garden. Her success with the plant shows that she will be as successful as a gardener. At the end of the play, Mama is seen carrying her plant as if to say the family will be able to put down its roots in the new neighborhood and try to realize its dreams. The dedication and commitment that is shown to the plant hints that the dream might come true. You easily notice how brave of a decision the Youngers are making by entering this white neighborhood.


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