A Raisin in the Sun
How we cite our quotes:
Honey, Big Walter would come in here some nights back then and slump down on that couch there and just look at the rug, and look at me and look at the rug and then back at me – and I’d know he was down then… really down. (After a second very long and thoughtful pause; she is seeing back to times that only she can see) And then, Lord, when I lost that baby – little Claude – I almost thought I was going to lose Big Walter too. Oh, that man grieved hisself! He was one man to love his children. (1.1.202)
Lena remembers the pain of losing her child and watching her husband break apart after the fact. The suffering was almost too much for Big Walter to bear. We wonder if Big Walter blamed himself for his child's death and for his family's struggles.
I guess that’s how come that man finally worked hisself to death like he done. Like he was fighting his own war with this here world that took his baby from him. (1.1.204)
Lena believes Big Walter died from the pain of having lost a child. He buried himself in work to try and escape memory of the child's death. Eventually, though, all this work brought on his own death, which brought more pain to his family. We wonder if Big Walter somehow knew this was going to happen. Did he work himself to death on purpose so that his family would get the life insurance check? Did he die to try and ease his family's suffering?
(RUTH reaches out suddenly and grabs her son without even looking at him and clamps her hand over his mouth and holds him to her…)
You hush up now… talking all that terrible stuff… (TRAVIS is staring at his mother with a stunned expression…) (1.2.63-4)
Ruth is horrified when her son finds pleasure in watching the murder of a rat. She is so disturbed, she shuts him up with her hand. Her negative reaction could be amplified by the fact that she is pregnant. Does she really want to bring another baby into a world where killing rats is a popular childhood pastime? Does she really want another child to experience this world of suffering?