“A raising in the sun”

Lena Younger, who is in her sixties, is undoubtedly a faithful matriarch of her kin. Lena, also known as "Mama," is a capable and resilient mother to both Walter Lee and Beneatha. Her commitment to Christianity demonstrates this. Furthermore, Younger has a strong urge to improve the well-being of her kin. As a result, in order to help them, she works as a domestic house cleaner. Regardless of the changes in her life, she adheres to conservative beliefs. Many people consider her to be the “Nobel bearer” from “Southwest Africa.” Lena depicts all African American women who had a dream in life at a time where racism, discrimination and poverty were common among African Americans. By exploring literary devices such as symbolism and imagery, the paper traces Lena’s development throughout the narrative.

Character Development

From the name Lena, it is evident that her family relied (leaned) on her for support. Her character rotates around the way she treats her family with compassion. Also referred to as “Mama”, Lena Younger plays a significant role in uniting the entire family (Mays 1446). With no significant dreams of her own, she lives in the dreams of her children and grandchild. Being the matriarch of the family, she exudes a full bodied and strong woman. She possess great pride in her children in spite of the fact that she works as a domestic maid. To add on, Lena behavior depicts a conservative view when she overlooks her husband’s chauvinistic habits. She believes that submission is important in liberating her family from the claws of her husband. Lena’s character develops through her relation with Travis, her grandson. Moreover, her compassionate nature is emphasized by the way she treats Travis (Mays 1446).

Furthermore, the author describes mama’s character through her relationship with Walter, her son. The protagonist in this case is Walter. The entire story seems to begin, end and revolve around him. Mama mentions in the end, “He finally come into his manhood today dint he?” Kind of like a rainbow after the rain” Walters’s real conflict is racism. Lindner portrayed racist views on that matter but does not qualify as the antagonist. Walter and Lindner live in conflict because of Walters dreams collide with Lindner beliefs and views. The circumstances occurring at the same time, building the clash in the story (Mays 1447).

In describing how the character develops throughout the story, the writer employs the following literary devices:


Lena Younger is a stock character who figuratively represents the African American community. The author calls her “Mama” due to her selfless struggle for her children. In addition, she holds on for such a big name, ‘Lean’ that is an epitome of self-sacrifice. Moreover, the author uses the word “Mama” to bring hope and comfort to the family. Despite the fact that she has no material wealth, she still manages to walk tall and exude dignity. After the death of her abusive husband, mama’s wish to improve the livelihood of her children gets her to receive an insurance check enough to secure a house (Mays 1447). Religious symbolism elaborates her flawless character when she donates part of the money to her church irrespective of the little wealth that she had. Lena’s profound conviction of Christianity saves her day-to-day struggle. Her strength reinvigorates even after the loss of both her husband. This strong faith she possesses, replenishes her to hope gaining more strength for her family.


As the plot continues a magnetic power of conflict suspense and surprise builds up an interesting impression of the story. In a Raisin in the sun their uncertainty and change of expectations is one example of how Younger makes an immediate decision to liberate $6,500 of insurance money to Walter. These events bring the audience to a hold; wondering and in full of questions about the aftermath (Mays 1448).

Unity of action

Unity of action must be relevant and pertinent when combining events systematically. To begin with, some actions that do not go in line with the flow of the story are omitted to maintain significance. This is of importance because the audience is able to distinguish between a mere life story narration and a literary narrative. “A Raising the Sun” ensures the distinction is noticed (Mays 1447). For instance, Walter gives his son Travis fifty-cents to get carfare from his mother. This was a hoax to conceal his feeling of financial constraint and his denial of the reality of his family’s a financial crisis. Fundamentally, he is shielding Travis from the realization. From this, unity of actions is revealed by combing through Walters character.

The rising, climax and falling action

Gustav Freytag a German critic proposed pertinent analysis of the literacy devices; the rising, climax and falling action. Mama’s character is explained by the way he handles the conflict between Walter and his sister. First, the rising actions begins immediately in the play when Walter’s desires and dream turns to obsession. He anticipates anxiously for the insurance money. His talks about it are endless to the extent that he argues with his sister. This issue then rises to a point where he suggest to his wife, a ploy to get Mama to sign the check needed in his business venture. This rising action grows to complication. Secondly, the climax of Raising transpires with Bobo disappointing Walter with the news that the money was stolen. Walter’s needs and expectations are cut short and redirected to different thoughts and outcomes (Mays 1449). Finally, falling action is depicted when Walter contemplates dropping his conceit, having understood his faults. This realization brings him to recovery and therefore he decides not to put the money into the business venture. To conclude, Lena Younger takes charge of all the characters in the plot.


The peripety of the story lies on Lena’s actions. This is a sudden change of fortune in a plot. Her personality ciphers the aftermath of the rest of the characters. First, Walter seems to lose the families money and trust and the remorse turns it into self-contempt. He later gains self-esteem from his talk with Lindner, changing his conviction of venturing into business with the insurance money. The unprecedented change redeems him enough. Walter luckily maintains his pride and restores dignity from the family (Mays 1447).


Secondly, a portmanteau word is put in conjunction with two meanings sorted into one word. A perfect illustration in “A Raising In the Sun” is when Ruth refers to Travis’ as “stubborn” when she actually means “sloppy’ and “stubborn”. This happens since Ruth lacked formal education. The audience may be aware but she does not know that this is not a real world.


Lena Younger humble life is supplemented with the word “plant”. Essentially, the plant referred to is one that grows with hope and oppression and this is comprehended in Lena’s personality throughout the play. Lena’s is over and done with hardships and tests, a clear representation of how a plant in pursuit for growth thrives on tough land and scorching sun. The plant fronts itself for the betterment of her children. For instance, Lena had no dream for her own although she envisaged those of her children (Mays 1448).

Hansberry the author paints a picture of Lena’s apartment as compacted and dusky with a “single window”. It is conspicuously the only light source, one that “fights its way through.” The imagery refers to the only hope of African Americans in Chicago. The black community yawned of freedom in their lives. However, the changing times meant that money became elusive and difficult to acquire. Youngers home represents the only hope they have. Youngers home is in undesirable situation. Her financial predicament is evident from the creatures inhabiting her personal space. Cockroaches, rats and other lovely creatures decipher the problems and need for help for her family (Mays 1449).

The story explains Younger incorruptible character by exploring the theme of racial discrimination. The house that Mama bought was in a predominantly white neighborhood. When the governing body sends a representative to buy their house, she refuses the offer. Unluckily, Walter goes back to renegotiate the bribe. However, Mama insists that she would not compromise her morals, irrespective of the coercion by the racist move by Lindner. Lena bold and defiant personality sums up the character development in the story.


To conclude, the paper sequentially analyses Lenah’s character development throughout the story. The author expounds the writings by employing literary devices such as symbolism, unity of action, falling action, imagery and exposition. Principally, Lena Younger emphasizes on family and love throughout the narrative. The importance of family is the exclusive motive. The family goes through both social and economic struggles throughout the play but they unite eventually. Mama’s strong emphasis on unity tries to teach them values while still keeping them together. Ultimately, the family merges to put their family issues before their own.

Work cited

Mays, Kelly J. The Norton Introduction to Literature. 2016. Print.

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