Act III of “A Raisin in the Sun” has a lot going on as we finish up the play. The scene starts off with Beneatha being surprised by the visit of Asagai. Asagai tries to convince Beneatha of living a better life in Africa with him where they won’t have to worry about integration (a side note: Beneatha had mentioned earlier in the play she might not marry one day but after this proposal she starts to take it seriously). Similarly, Mr. Linder who we later see pop up in this scene, wants to pay the Younger’s back their money for the home they purchased in Clybourne Park so they don’t integrate into his “white” neighborhood. Asagai and Mr. Linder both want to keep their cultural identity alive. Asagai has no interest in fitting in an American white society where in Nigeria he can thrive and live a fulfilled life with no discrimination. Mr. Linder and his neighborhood feel they have worked long and hard to make their neighborhood what it is and an African American family moving into it “takes away” everything they’ve worked for.
When Act III begins, they mention how dark the setting is (like the first act) and how all the optimism had vanished. Beneatha goes into detail on the moment she decided she wanted to become a doctor, “…And I remember standing there looking at his bloody open face thinking that was the end of Rufus. But the ambulance came and they took him to the hospital and they fixed the broken bones and they sewed it all up…and the next time I saw Rufus he just had a little line down the middle of his face…I never got over that…” (132-133) This scene reminded me when Walter was ranting to Travis about his dreams for him and his family once Mama gave him money. It all seemed too good to be true and that’s exactly how Beneatha felt. She had a dream to become a doctor and solely depended on her fathers money to make it happen. With the loss of his money it felt like the loss of her dreams of helping people as well.
Before the play even begins, there is a poem by Langston Hughes called “A Dream Deferred” about dreams not becoming reality. On page 143, Beneatha and the whole family is still in shock, as well as disappointment at the loss of their father’s money thanks to Walters impulsive investment. Walter informs them how he is going to get the money back in full from Mr. Linder leaving Beneatha to sadly say, “Well- we are dead now. All the talk about dreams and sunlight that goes on in the house. It’s all dead now.” (143) This immediately made me think of the poem and how they all might feel like a raisin in the sun. The dreams they aspired and excitement they had after receiving the $10,000 check vanished. They had hit absolute rock bottom. They were going to have to unpack all the packages they packed away for their new, bigger and hopeful home. Beneatha wasn’t going to be able to get the education she needed. The days of living in a tight, uncomfortable space with a baby on the way and their futures uncertain would continue.
Lastly, we see a huge step forward for Walter. We are used to seeing Walter beg and want to be the man of the house but he had no capability of doing so. We continue thinking this until he invites Mr. Linder over and confronts him by saying, “And we have decided to move into our house because my father- my father- he earned it for us brick by brick.” (148) He gives this “show” in front of his whole family to prove he is going to take control of this family and do them right for now on. He embraces the pride he has for his family, even mentioning how Beneatha is going to be a doctor although doubting it the entire play. He admires how ambitious and hardworking they all are. I felt it was very important for Travis to be there and see his father take this lead to help him keep the pride of the generations going. Also it would motivate Travis to take the same role as his father one day. It ends on a hopeful note, the mood is lightened and it feels like they made the best decision for their family.
Do you see any other examples that relate to the poem “A Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes in this act?
What do you think happened to the Younger’s next? Do you think their lives turned out how they hoped?