Walter Lee is the only protagonist and antagonist at the same time in A Raising in the Sun.
As the play opens, Walter comes out conspicuously due to his ideologies concerning the money the Youngers are about to receive from an insurance firm as life insurance policy for the deceased Mr. Youngers. Every person in the Youngers family has a different idea on how they should spend the money. Mama, the mother of the house wants to buy a house for the family. Beneatha, Youngers’ daughter wants to pay for her school tuition using part of the money.
Ruth, Walter’s wife, supports the idea of buying a house for the family because this would mean better future life for her son Travis. On the other hand, Walter seems to have a dream for the family. He wants to invest the money in a joint liquor store and co-own it with his acquaintances.
This notion of investing for the sake of the family paints Walter as a responsible person; however, his undertakings are poor, exposing his immaturity and gullibility. Nevertheless, with time, he beats all these challenges to become the foundation of this family.
As aforementioned, Walter is the most outstanding character in this play.
He is Travis’ cherishing dad, Ruth’s noncompliant hubby, Mama’s boy, and Beneatha’s combatant brother. As the play opens, he fights with nearly every one around him. In Act one, Travis is asking for fifty cents required in school; however, as Ruth tries to explain to Travis how they do not have it, Walter comes from nowhere and gives Travis one dollar.
This shows Walters blatant immaturity. A dollar is a lot of money compared to the required fifty cents. Moreover, disapproving Ruth in front of Travis is contemptuous and immature. He then confronts Beneatha and tells her that she should just forget her medicine course for it would cut into the cheque from the insurance firm. It emerges that the one dollar that Walter had given Travis was meant for his transport. The fact that he gives his transport money knowing that he has to travel to work echoes his immaturity. Act one scene II, opens with Walter fighting Beneatha for no reason. He promises Willy; his friend and imminent business collaborate that he will take money to him immediately.
This promise is immature; Walter knows very well that getting the money to invest in his business remains a point of contention, yet he promises Willy that he would take the money. That evening when he comes home, Walter is only interested in talking about his business contrives. Ruth wants to talk about her pregnancy; however, this does not bother Walter. He is so engrossed in his business plans that he does not care whether Ruth aborts or not. As a mature responsible father and husband, Walter should address this issue but he chooses to overlook everything, this is immaturity. After Mama announces that she has paid down payment on the family house, Walter cannot believe it and he accuses his mother of betraying him and thrashing his dream to own a business. He goes into drinking spree for three days until his boss calls Ruth to enquire what has happened. However, when Mama gives him $6,500, to invest part of it in his business, Walter becomes a more responsible man.
He tells Travis how he would invest in a good business that would make their lives better by the time Travis is seventeen. “Your daddy’s gonna make a…business transaction that’s going to change our lives” (Hansberry 23). At least this is a vision of a responsible man who cares about the future of his family (BookRags Para. 5). Nevertheless, this is only the beginning Walter’s change. In Act II, scene III, Walter is a changed man.
He takes Ruth for dinner and makes her happy all the time. For the first time Walter and Beneatha shares a humorous moment as a brother and a sister. When Mr. Lindner comes to urge the Youngers to stop purchasing the house in Clybourne Park because the residents are opposed to it, Walter stands for his family, tells Mr. Lindner that they do not need the money he is offering and requests him to leave immediately. Walter is now maturing and takes the responsibility of family head as required of him in the absence of his father.
Even after Willy Harris runs with his money, he remains composed. Walter’s maturity comes out clearly, when he stands to defend his family. (CliffNotes Para. 6).
When mama decides to reverse her decision of buying the family house, Walter stands his ground and reverses his decision to sign Mr. Lindner’s papers that would prevent them from moving to Clybourne Park. Walter says, “He says, “We have decided to move into our house because my father—my father—he 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 neighbours. Moreover, that’s all we got to say about that. We don’t want your money” (Hansberry 31). The family moves in their new house, they resolve to dissolve their selfish ambitions and work together, and they owe their unity to Walter.
Walter is a man with many faces in this story.
From an irresponsible immature father, husband, brother and a son, he fights many fights to become his family’s foundation (Robert Para. 9). He made many mistakes like making unwise investment among others. However, as the story ends, he becomes a responsible person. He refuses Mr. Lindner’s money, a move that brings unity, joy, and peace in the family, hence becoming the cornerstone of the family.
BookRags. “Notes on A Raisin in the Sun.” 2010. Web. 17 Mar. 2010.http://www.bookrags.
com/notes/rai/ CliffNotes. “A Raisin in the Sun.” 2010. Web. 17 Mar. 2010.
http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/literature/A-Raisin-in-the-Sun-Lorraine-Hansberry-Biography.id-150,pageNum-3.html Hansberry, Lorraine.
“A Raisin of the Sun.” New York; New American Library, 1994. Robert, Willis. “A Raisin in the Sun Study Guide.” 2010.
Web. 17 Mar. 2010.http://www.gradesaver.com/a-raisin-in-the-sun/study-guide/about/