Symbolism in Raisin in the Sun
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Symbolism is a powerful method of communication in literature reading and writing. It is applied in the literature to hide the certain meaning of some things. With the proper use of symbols, even the most mundane literary work may take on a deep and otherworldly quality. For example, others are more straightforward in their meaning, but it is up to the reader to figure out what they imply. Furthermore, each audience member brings their hidden language to the table when interpreting any media, whether a song, a play, a movie, a book, a painting, religious text, or a piece of art. A Raisin in the Sun, written by Lorraine Hansberry, is rife with symbolic implications that transform it from a play about a single family to one about the challenges of an entire race.
A Series of events occurs in the life of the Younger family in Southside Chicago from 1945 until 1959. For example, the Civil Rights Movement was at its height, and black people still faced injustice and discrimination. Throughout the exposition, we study countless transactions about the play’s personality, their goods, and the play’s relationship to the present war. Like many other characters, Walter Lee Younger is an important allegory(Howard-Pitney et al. 2004). He is a symbol of anger, enthusiasm, ambition, and hope. To all appearances, these traits are geared toward his well-being and the achievement of his loved ones. With an air of inebriated performance, Walter proclaims, “I am many fighters!” (Hansberry,2014 ). Considering the deeper significance, he symbolizes a whole race that fights injustice with the power of hope and aspirations.
Mama’s long-held dream of providing a roof over her family’s head was finally within reach, but their hope was false. The house represents hope and the transition of the social status in the community. An insurance check was their passport to a more joyful life. However, Mr. Linder’s expression to hang himself and the newspaper explosions threaten their purportedly improved lifestyles. Without the funds, they won’t be able to feed themselves, pay the mortgage, and meet all of their other needs (Hansberry, 2014).
In contrast to the present life of Black in America, they still experience economic and social hardship compared to the white population. For example, all in the African-American neighborhood and the Younger family in the play experience these challenges. Black people were no longer bound by slavery but maintained separate communities. The fight for equality continued even after segregation was made illegal, but discrimination and poverty continued to exist.
The egg in the story is an important and often-overlooked symbol in the play. They may seem to be nothing more than something Walter is denied, yet they are more than that. Walter’s conversation with Ruth, “Man, say to his woman: I got me a dream. His woman says: Eat your eggs, which indicates his intentions”. Eggs are what his wife has been nagging him to eat (Hansberry, 2014). The eggs reflect his determinations as a symbol of his hopes, aspirations, and dreams. The egg stands for his most recent idea, but it never turns out as he had hoped.
Additionally, it represents Walter’s offspring, Travis. In that he is tender, young, and brimming with optimism for the future, Travis is similar to a newly laid eggNothing he does, not even having his eggs prepared, whatever he likes, will allow him to defend Travis or the unborn kid or give them their desires. If Walter represents the dreams and hope of the human race’s future, then the eggs are an amalgamation of Walter and Travis. They stand for potential futures, which may or may not materialize due to confusion and strife.
The image of Mama is a caricature of the 1950s and 1960s ideal of a black woman in America. She, too, lacks dynamic qualities, but her unwavering faith and commitment provide her with a solid foundation. What’s more, she tends to the plant. The Younger family, and all black people in America, are represented by the plant. Because she represents trust, Mama guards these hopes and desires. In the words of Hansberry, who likes to use Mama’s plant as a metaphor, “Mama continues to have trust in her plant since she recognizes the plant’s will to develop” (Hansberry, 2014). The plant is outdoor in most of the play, representing a distant dream, and it is only brought inside for the little quantity of food ( hope and faith) it needs to survive. Mama takes it inside just as the family prepares to leave, just like a dream is upon the family. Although when Walter loses his money, the plant is taken back outdoors, just like a dream forgotten. It’s worth noting that, like Mama’s dream, the plant flourishes because it is being looked after like a dream.
Mama’s dream is to own a house; she and her plant need shelter, so she goes out and buys one in a location with “a lot of sunshine” (Hansberry, 2007, page 650). The house is located in a mostly white area; thus, eliminating racial segregation is a top priority. The sunlight represents the hope that keeps the plant’s dream alive. The new gardening equipment presented to Mama is a key part of this multifaced symbolic complex(Hansberry, 2014). The next generation equips her with the skills she needs in her role as keeper of tradition and religion to protect the dream, grow it, and help it spread.
In conclusion, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun is a novella focused on black family dynamics. Yet the play has a subtextual allusion to the Civil Rights Movement. Many of the play’s aspects represent black Americans’ hopes, hardships, and forms of resistance against oppression at the time. An era that would irrevocably transform the world’s most powerful nation was beginning when this drama was made. The symbol cipher is beautiful since its meaning changes with each decoding. We can expect A Raisin in the Sun to be discussed and read in classrooms for years to come.
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- Hansberry, Lorraine. “A Raisin in the Sun.” African American Scenebook. Routledge, 2014. 57-62.
- Hansberry, L. a raisin’s ordeal with the Sun: Gender, Race, and Class Conflicts in A Raisin in the Sun. ICHES ULUSLARARASI İNSANİ BİLİMLER VE EĞİTİM BİLİMLERİ KONGRESİ (8-10 KASIM 2019/İZMİR/TÜRKİYE), 21.
- Howard-Pitney, D., Davis, N. Z., & May, E. (2004). Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, and the Civil Right Struggle of the 1950s and 1960s. Bedford/St. Martin’s.