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A Raisin in the Sun

A Raisin in the Sun

by Lorraine Hansberry

Lena Younger (Mama)

Character Analysis

Lena Younger, a.k.a. Mama, totally rocks our world. She's a down-to-earth, hard-working black woman who doesn't suffer fools. Mama has dedicated her life to her children and struggles to instill her values in them – with mixed results. One of Lena's most poignant moments might be when she admits to Ruth that sometimes her children frighten her. This is one of those sad and beautiful moments that make her character seem truly human.

Throughout the play, Lena struggles to connect with her children, Beneatha and Walter. She's extremely worried about Walter's obsession with money and is totally disapproving of Beneatha's lack of faith in God. Mama even goes so far as to slap Beneatha in the face when the girl says that God doesn't exist.

Except for the face-slap moment, Mama is mostly kind and patient with her family. Her nurturing personality is symbolized by the way she treats her houseplant. Though it is wilting, Mama loves it unconditionally. Just like her family, Lena's plant lacks the necessary resources to flourish. Rather than giving up, however, Mama does all she can for it and has faith that one day it will truly thrive.

Mama's faith is put to the test near the end of the play when she entrusts Walter with the $6,500 that's left from the insurance check. At first, it seems like her trust was totally misplaced when Walter loses all of the money. However, Lena's faith is redeemed when her son refuses to accept the bribe from Mr. Lindner. In the last moments of the play, we see Mama taking pride in her children. Like her plant, they're far from perfect, but still there's hope for them yet.

Timeline
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