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Analysis of Symbols in 'A Raisin in the Sun': Critical Essay

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The biggest symbol in the story, Mama’s plant represents both Mama’s care, the dream for her family, and wanting success. In the beginning, momma is helping the plant to take care of it. She says that the plant never gets enough light or water, but she takes pride in how it nevertheless flourishes under her care. Her care for her plant is like her care for her children, despite a less-than-perfect environment for growth. The plant also symbolizes her dream to own a house and to have a garden and a yard. With her plant, she practices her gardening skills. Her success with the plant helps her believe that she would be successful as a gardener. With her persistence and dedication to the plant, she hopes that her dream may come true.

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The life insurance check that Mama receives after the death of her husband represents hope, as each member of the family sees it as a one-time chance to make their dreams come true. However, money does not solve as many problems as they imagined. Before it even arrives, the family begins to argue about how it should be spent. “That money belongs to Mama, Walter, and it's for her to decide how she wants to use it. I don't care if she wants to buy a house or just nail it up somewhere and look at it. It's hers. Not ours--hers,” argues Beneatha, Walter's younger sister. Walter sees the check as his opportunity to get his business, Beneatha wants to use it to finish medical school, and Mama wants to buy a house. In the end, the only thing it ends up getting them is a house in a neighborhood that doesn't want them there. The check goes from symbolizing hope to symbolizing the loss of their dreams.

The sun is also a main symbol in the story. Sun also represents hope; a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. The sun is played through the story by the tiny window behind the kitchen area. Only a little light shines through the house through that tiny window. This shows that there might be little hope but at least there is still hope shining and trying for the family. The hope that does make it to the family, they use it very well and makes the best out of everything, or at least try to besides the bickering.

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Analysis of Symbols in ‘A Raisin in the Sun’: Critical Essay. (2023, September 19). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 4, 2024, from
“Analysis of Symbols in ‘A Raisin in the Sun’: Critical Essay.” Edubirdie, 19 Sept. 2023,
Analysis of Symbols in ‘A Raisin in the Sun’: Critical Essay. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 4 Mar. 2024].
Analysis of Symbols in ‘A Raisin in the Sun’: Critical Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Sept 19 [cited 2024 Mar 4]. Available from:
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