A Raisin in the Sun
Choices Quotes Page 4
How we cite our quotes:
WALTER (Coming to her)
I’m going to feel fine, Mama. I’m going to look that son-of-a-bitch in the eyes and say – (He falters) – and say, "All right, Mr. Lindner – (He falters even more) – that’s your neighborhood out there! You got the right to keep it like you want! You got the right to have it like you want! Just write the check and – the house is yours" (His voice almost breaks) "And you – you people just put the money in my hand and you won’t have to live next to this bunch of stinking niggers!…" (He straightens up and moves away from his mother, walking around the room) And maybe – maybe I’ll just get down on my black knees… (He does so; RUTH and BENNIE and MAMA watch him in frozen horror) "Captain, Mistuh, Bossman – (Groveling and grinning and wringing his hands in profoundly anguished imitation of the slow-witted movie stereotype) A-hee-hee-hee! Oh, yassuh boss! Yasssssuh! Great white – (Voice breaking, he forces himself to go on) – Father, just gi’ ussen de money, fo’ God’s sake, and we’s – we’s ain’t gwine come out deh and dirty up yo’ white folks neighborhood…" (He breaks down completely) And I’ll feel fine! Fine! FINE! (He gets up and goes into the bedroom) (3.1.103)
Walter decides that he's going to play the stereotype that Karl Lindner has labeled him as. He figures selling out and forfeiting his dignity is the only way to earn his father's money back.
MAMA (Opening her eyes and looking into WALTER’S)
No. Travis, you stay right here. And you make him understand what you doing, Walter Lee. You teach him good. Like Willy Harris taught you. You show where our five generations done come to. (WALTER looks from her to the boy, who grins at him innocently) Go ahead, son – (She folds her hands and closes her eyes) Go ahead. (3.1.120)
Lena urges Walter to consider how his actions affect his son. She makes Walter think about how his choices might influence Travis's choices in the future. If Walter gives into Lindner, will it set a negative example for his son? Will Travis sacrifice his dignity in similar ways?
And we have decided to move into our house because my father – my father – he earned it for us brick by brick (MAMA has her eyes closed and is rocking back and forth as though she were in church, with her head nodding the Amen yes) We don’t want to make no trouble for nobody or fight no causes, and we will try to be good neighbors. And that’s all we got to say about that. (He looks the man absolutely in the eyes) We don’t want your money. (He turns and walks away) (3.1.133)
Walter tells Lindner that the Youngers are going to move into the house. Their move is not motivated by issues of race, but of a family's right to create a home. By choosing not to give into Lindner, Walter regains his dignity.