Mama in A Raisin in the Sun: Character & Quotes

Mama in A Raisin in the Sun: Character & Quotes
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  • 0:02 A Raisin in the Sun: Mama
  • 2:31 Act 1, Scene 1: Quotes
  • 3:40 Act 2, Scene 2: Quotes
  • 4:12 Act 3: Quotes
  • 4:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Washington

Danielle is a certified English Language Arts educator with 8 years of classroom experience, and has an education specialist degree in curriculum and instruction.

Have you ever met someone who was kind yet strict at the same time? This describes Mama, one of the characters from 'A Raisin in the Sun.' In this lesson, you'll explore her character and hear what she has to say about her dreams and kids.

Who Is Mama?

In Lorraine Hansberry's play A Raisin in the Sun, Mama (also known as Lena Younger) is the humble, hard-working head of the Younger family, which consists of Mama and her adult children, Walter Lee and Beneatha, Walter's wife Ruth, and son Travis. The family of five live on the Southside of Chicago in a small, two-bedroom apartment in a rundown Black neighborhood. Some people would find it hard to see the bright side of things in these conditions, but not Mama. Despite their poor surroundings, she is a proud woman who always tries to hold her head high and teach her family the right values.

The one thing Mama cares most about in the world is her family, as she is willing to sacrifice anything to help them fulfill their dreams. When her husband dies and she receives a $10,000 insurance check, Mama's dreams about using the money to buy a house for the family. She also wants to use some of the money to help her daughter, Beneatha, attend medical school. Mama even gives a portion of the money to Walter Lee so he can fulfill his dream of opening a liquor store.

While Mama is patient, loving, and kind with her family, she often struggles to connect with her children because of her conservative, religious point of view. She worries about Walter's obsession with money and initially refuses to give him the money for the liquor store because it goes against her religious beliefs. She also has a conflict with Beneatha, who questions how the family could still believe in God when they struggle so much. When Beneatha says that God doesn't exist, Mama slaps her in the face. Ouch!

As we mentioned earlier, Mama's main dream was to buy a house for her family in a better neighborhood. However, the house she has her eye on happens to be in an all-white part of town where Blacks are not welcomed. When the white neighborhood sends a representative to try and talk Mama out of buying the house by offering her a bribe, she refuses to accept his offer. Unfortunately, this isn't the last time that Mama will have an encounter with Mr. Lindner. When Walter loses all the family's money, he calls Mr. Lindner back to accept the bribe. Although Mama is against this, she decides to step back and let Walter handle the situation. In the end, Walter makes Mama proud by changing his mind and refusing Mr. Lindner's bribe. Mama's dream is fulfilled, as the family prepares to move into their new home.

Act 1, Scene 1: Quotes

Let's take a look at some key quotes from Mama in A Raisin in the Sun:

This first quote shows us why Mama is so focused on fulfilling her children's dreams. Life has been hard, but knowing that her children will be able to benefit from her and her late husband's struggles make it worthwhile:

Big Walter used to say, he'd get right wet in the eyes sometimes, lean his head back with the water standing in his eyes and say, 'Seem like God didn't see fit to give the black man nothing but dreams - but He did give us children to make them dreams seem worth while.'

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