Study Guide

A Raisin in the Sun Pride

By Lorraine Hansberry

Pride

Act One, Scene One

Still, we can see that at some time, a time probably no longer remembered by the family (except perhaps for MAMA), the furnishings of this room were actually selected with care and love and even hope – and brought to this apartment and arranged with taste and pride. (1.1.stage directions)

The Younger family's history of pride is visually represented in their furniture. When Mama and Big Walter, Beneatha and Walter's father, first moved into the apartment and bought what was then new furniture they felt like they'd really achieved something. They saw the apartment as a steppingstone to a better future for their family. Now, though, many years have gone by and the family struggles to maintain their pride in the face of poverty.

Act One, Scene Two
Lena Younger (Mama)

MAMA
You ain’t satisfied or proud of nothing [your dad and I] done. (1.2.231)

Lena is hurt that Walter doesn't feel proud of the family legacy he comes from. She worked hard with her husband to provide a future for their children. Now, though, Walter is ashamed of their working-class lifestyle and shabby apartment. Walter dreams of "bigger and better" things.

Act Two, Scene Two
Lena Younger (Mama)

MAMA
Plenty. My husband always said being any kind of a servant wasn’t a fit thing for a man to have to be. He always said a man’s hands was made to make things, or to turn the earth with – not to drive nobody’s car for ‘em – or – (She looks at her own hands) carry they slop jars. And my boy is just like him – he wasn’t meant to wait on nobody. (2.2.78)

Despite their background, the Youngers are a proud people. Like his father, Walter wishes to be more than somebody's servant. He wants to be his own man. In this passage it seems like Mama admired this trait in her late husband and is proud that her son thinks this way as well.

Act Three
Walter Younger

WALTER
This is my son, and he makes the sixth generation our family in this country. And we have all thought about your offer –
[…]
And we have decided to move into our house because my father – my father – he earned it for us brick by brick. (3.1.131-3)

Walter turns down the Clybourne Park Association's offer only after he remembers the roots his family has in America, and the rights that they deserve. He wants to set a strong example for his son, Travis, just like his father did for him.

WALTER (A beat; staring at [Karl])
And my father – (With sudden intensity) My father almost beat a man to death once because this man called him a bad name or something, you know what I mean? (3.1.127)

Big Walter, Walter's namesake and role model, refused to accept racist treatment. Hansberry suggests that having pride means being able to stand up for oneself. If Walter gives in to Lindner, he will shame the memory of his father.

Lena Younger (Mama)

MAMA
Son – I come from five generations of people who was slaves and sharecroppers – but ain’t nobody in my family never let nobody pay ‘em no money that was a way of telling us we wasn’t fit to walk the earth. We ain’t never been that poor. (Raising her eyes and looking at him) We ain’t never been that – dead inside. (3.1.97)

Lena tells her son that they come from a family of proud people. In her mind, taking money from Lindner would make them worse than slaves. At least during slavery, they didn't have a choice. If Walter takes the money and submits to racism willingly, she feels her family will really have lost its soul.