What is Mama’s Dream in A Raisin in the Sun?

Discover the significance of Mama’s dream in A Raisin in the Sun. This article explores what Mama’s dream is, its obstacles, and its influence on other characters.


A Raisin in the Sun is a classic play by Lorraine Hansberry that tells the story of a Black family’s struggle to achieve the American Dream. At the center of the play is Mama, the matriarch of the family, who has a dream of her own. Mama’s dream is one of the most critical themes in the play, as it drives the plot and influences the other characters’ actions. In this article, we will explore Mama’s dream in detail, examining its significance in the play and its relevance to our lives today.

Mama’s Background

To understand Mama’s dream fully, we must first understand her background. Mama, also known as Lena Younger, grew up in the South during a time of racial segregation and discrimination. She moved to Chicago with her husband, Big Walter, and raised her family in a small apartment on the South Side. Mama is a deeply religious woman who values family and hard work above all else. She has a close relationship with her daughter, Beneatha, and her son, Walter Lee, but she also has disagreements with both of them.

Despite her humble beginnings, Mama has managed to create a comfortable life for herself and her family. She works as a domestic servant for a wealthy white family and has saved up a considerable amount of money over the years. However, Mama’s dream goes beyond just financial stability. She has a vision for her family that extends far beyond their current circumstances.

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Mama’s Dream

Mama’s dream is one of the most significant themes in A Raisin in the Sun. Mama dreams of owning a house with a garden, where her family can live comfortably and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Mama’s dream is not just about material possessions; it is about creating a better life for her family and ensuring their future success.

Mama’s dream is rooted in her belief that owning a home is a symbol of stability and security. She believes that owning a home will give her family a sense of pride and purpose, and it will help them to achieve their full potential. Mama’s dream is a reflection of her deep desire to see her family succeed and thrive.

Obstacles to Mama’s Dream

Mama’s dream faces several obstacles throughout the play. The first and most significant obstacle is financial difficulty. Mama’s family does not have enough money to buy a house, and they must rely on the insurance money from Big Walter’s death to make their dream a reality. However, this money is not enough, and they face the difficult decision of how to use the money wisely.

Another obstacle to Mama’s dream is racial discrimination. Mama and her family face discrimination in various forms throughout the play, from the white neighborhood they hope to move into to Beneatha’s struggles to find her place as a Black woman in a predominantly white society. Mama’s dream is a reflection of her belief that Black people should have the same opportunities as white people, and the obstacles they face are a reminder of the harsh reality of racial inequality.

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Finally, Mama’s dream is also threatened by family conflicts. Mama and her children have different ideas about how to achieve their goals, and they must navigate these conflicts to reach a consensus. Walter Lee’s desire to invest in a liquor store instead of buying a house puts Mama’s dream in jeopardy, and she must fight to keep her vision alive. Despite these obstacles, Mama’s determination and resilience keep her dream alive, and she continues to fight for her family’s future.

Mama’s Influence on Other Characters

Mama’s dream not only drives her actions, but it also influences the other characters in the play. Mama has a significant impact on her children, particularly Walter Lee and Beneatha. Walter Lee, who is struggling to provide for his family, initially dismisses Mama’s dream as unrealistic. However, as the play progresses, he begins to see the value in Mama’s vision and becomes determined to make it a reality. Mama’s encouragement gives Walter Lee the motivation he needs to pursue his dreams and overcome his obstacles.

Beneatha, Mama’s daughter, is also influenced by Mama’s dream. Beneatha is a young woman with a passion for education and a desire to break free from traditional gender roles. Mama’s dream inspires Beneatha to pursue her dreams and to fight for what she believes in. Mama’s unwavering support for her daughter’s aspirations gives Beneatha the courage to challenge societal norms and to strive for a better future.

Mama’s role as the matriarch of the family is also deeply significant. She is the glue that holds the family together, and her wisdom and guidance are highly valued by her children. Mama’s dream serves as a unifying force for the family, bringing them together despite their differences and struggles.

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Mama’s Dream as a Symbol

Mama’s dream is more than just a personal goal; it is also a powerful symbol in the play. Mama’s dream represents hope for a brighter future, even in the face of adversity. It is a symbol of perseverance, as Mama has worked hard to save up the money needed to make her dream a reality. Mama’s dream also embodies the American Dream, the idea that anyone can achieve success and prosperity through hard work and determination.

However, Mama’s dream is not just a symbol of hope and perseverance. It also represents the struggles that Black families faced during this time period. Mama’s dream is a reminder of the systemic racism and discrimination that made it difficult for Black families to achieve their goals. Mama’s dream is a symbol of the resilience and strength of Black families, who were able to overcome these obstacles and achieve their dreams despite the odds against them.

In conclusion, Mama’s dream is a powerful symbol of hope, perseverance, and the American Dream. It serves as a driving force for the characters in A Raisin in the Sun and represents the struggles and triumphs of Black families during this time period. Mama’s dream is a reminder of the importance of family, hard work, and determination in achieving one’s goals and realizing one’s dreams.

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