Dreams, Family, and Love: How All of These Themes Can Relate to Beneatha’s Storyline in Act III

Throughout the entire story, the themes of dreams, family, and love have been clearly relevant in A Raisin in the Sun. The audience can tell how much each idea means to the play and how much they contribute to the story. I believe that all of the characters have dreams and it is clear to see that, but in my opinion, Beneatha’s dreams are the most interesting and thought out, to me. All of these themes come to a head at the end of the play with the help of Beneatha’s storyline.

Beneatha has always dreamed of changing the label that has been put on her for being a woman of color that has goals and dreams. She is very intellectual, level-headed, and goes to college hoping she could further her career in being a doctor someday. She has always been the odd one out in her family. They always tease her about chasing her dreams, but that has never stopped her from trying to accomplish just that.

When her friend from Nigeria, Asagai, comes into the picture he encourages her to explore more of her culture and identity.

ASAGAI. Then isn’t there something wrong in a house – in a world – where all dreams, good or bad, must depend on the death of a man? I never thought to see you like this, Alaiyo. You! Your brother made a mistake and you are grateful to him so that now you can give up the ailing human race on account of it! You talk about what good is struggle, what good is anything! Where are all going and why are we bothering? (Act III, Page 135).

Asagai is, clearly and undeniably, in love with Beneatha, and although Beneatha is “dating” George, based on their body language alone, the audience can detect the love and chemistry they have with each other. After Walter gets rid of all of Beneatha’s money for school, she turns to Asagai. She was so distraught, and Asagai knew exactly what to say to her. For example, on page 136, Asagai helps and supports Beneatha, but also challenges Beneatha with a very important question:

ASAGAI. Good! Then stop moaning and groaning and tell me what you plan to do?

BENEATHA. Do?

ASAGAI. (Rather quietly for him) That when it is all over- that you come home with me-

BENEATHA. (Staring at him and and crossing away with exasperation) Oh- Asagai- at this moment you decide to be romantic!

Asagai literally and figuratively proposes to Beneatha by asking her to come back to Africa with him, to not only marry him, but to also live out her dreams and practice medicine in Africa. Beneatha realizes what she wants and by the end of the novel, she makes the decisions to go to Africa with Asagai, and pursue her dreams to help cure people and to be with the one she loves.

While her family (especially Walter), was very hesitant at first, they all knew that going to Africa was the best thing for her. Walter’s main focus in life is money, so I was not shocked why he was questioning Beneatha’s choices because he would have wanted her to marry George since he has money and could provide for her. This made me dislike Walter even more than I already did because he seemed like he was being selfish towards Beneatha and had no regard for her own dreams and plans.

Although, the Younger family has their issues, Beneatha knew it would be a tough decision to leave her family. They mean everything to her no matter how much they bicker and argue, and she knows they always want the best for her. Even at the very end when Beneatha and Walter are bickering, Mama and Ruth know how much they care for each other. I think that scene is so important because even after how much they fought over the money and the choices Walter made, they can come back together, even if they do start playfully bickering again, as siblings do.

In my opinion, Beneatha’s dream, love life, and family life are key points during Act III of the play. They are all important ideas in everyday life and are shown throughout the play. The idea of the sibling bond that Beneatha and Walter have is something that is so relevant and sometimes, these kind of arguments over money and our own personal relationships can get in between a family. Although, Beneatha has overcome struggles and everyone has their own opinions about the situation, she has prevailed through all of them. Personally for me, I like how she ended it because not every story is going to be this “Happily Ever After” scenario and it seemed very realistic to me, like not everything is going to be perfect. The questions I want to leave you guys with is what do you think of Beneatha becoming independent and stepping out on her own (with the help of Asagai) to further her career and relationship? And lastly, what are your overall thoughts on how the play ended and why do you think Lorraine Hansberry decided to end the play the way she did?

7 thoughts on “Dreams, Family, and Love: How All of These Themes Can Relate to Beneatha’s Storyline in Act III”

  1. Hey Sophia! I really think your blog has some great insight on the storyline of Beneatha, and how it is in fact important throughout the play. I strongly agree with your points regarding Beneatha’s relationship with Walter and his opinion on her getting an education. I have an older brother, and he always encourages me to do my best and to not give up no matter the circumstance. In the same way, I think Walter should encourage his sister to go to school rather than tell her that it would be a waste of money and that she wouldn’t be successful. Although at the time it was very difficult for African American women to get high end jobs such as a doctor, Beneatha is very self motivated and determined to become successful, which is why Walter should have faith in her. Beneatha getting the opportunity to go away with Asagai and pursue her career is in my opinion, an excellent idea. Asagai makes Beneatha a stronger character by challenging her ideas and emotions. For example, when Beneatha is upset about Walter giving away all her money Asagai says, “Was it your money? … But did you earn it? Would you have had it all if your father had not died” (134-135). By Asagai making this point, it causes Beneatha to think about what’s not only important to her, but to her family as well. When you have a significant other, they should challenge your thinking in a positive way, which is what Asagai does. Therefore, Beneatha should take the opportunity to be happy with Asagai, and pursue the career of her dreams.

  2. Hi Sofia, I agree 100% with everything you mentioned in your blog. I personally feel like Beneatha stepping out of her home life and comfort zone to pursue all the dreams she has can be seen as both idealistic and realistic. It seems on her part that she is always willing to try new things such as photography and guitar lessons but as her family expressed, she never goes through with them. With that being said, there is a slight part of me that believes that she should take more time to think about moving to Nigeria. But it is also realistic in the sense that she feels content and secure with her dream of being a doctor and being with Asagai. Lorraine Hansberry ended the play differently than I thought, especially after introducing Walter with this idea on how to get more money back. I was astonished but relieved when Walter said “And we have decided to move into our house because my father-my father- he earned it for us brick by brick,” (Page 148) because it showed a major progression for Walter after his very selfish and insecure ways. Although, there are parts of me that believe that the family should have taken the money to feel more secure and to let Mama have a break. But the other part of me was glad that they have decided to advance into this happier and more spacious life.

  3. Hi Sofia! I really liked your character analysis on Beneatha. I admire her and I support a lot of her views on certain issues and her dreams. I liked when Beneatha shared the experience from when she was younger and when she knew she wanted to be a doctor. She is extremely caring and wants to help people which separates her character apart from Walter’s in a way. I was upset when Beneatha said that she think she stopped caring about wanting to fulfill her dreams of being a doctor. I liked the way in which Asagai responded to Beneatha wanting to give up all of her dreams and everything she’s worked for. The way he spoke to her allowed her to see the other side of things rather than settling and basing the way she feels off of the negative.

    Asagai: Was it your money?
    Beneatha: What?
    Asagai: Was it your money he gave away?
    Beneatha: It belonged to all of us.
    Asagai: But did you earn it? Would you have had it at all if your father had not died?
    Beneatha: No (Pg. 134 ).

    This conversation between Asagai and Beneatha in the play stood out to me because Asagai does have somewhat of a point. Beneatha did not earn that money her family just happened to get lucky and get an insurance check from Big Walter. Technically, the money is Big Walter’s and if there was never a check, to begin with, Beneatha still would’ve wanted to be a doctor despite everything.

    I support the fact that Beneatha wants to step out and become independent. I feel like Beneatha wants to get in touch with her culture and she can truly be herself in Africa. Beneatha could also become a very successful doctor by practicing in Africa and she will learn so much, I really do think there is a lot in store for her there. Asagai and Beneatha are a good match and I like the two of them together and I love how much he supports her and values her.

    Personally, I don’t like how the play ended I wish it ended with more details of what is going to happen to Walter, Beneatha, Ruth, Mama, and Travis rather than leaving us to wonder. I think Hansberry ended it this way so we can make up our own mini story of what we think is going to happen. This play ended in a positive way so I believe that this family is going to do well in this neighborhood and that there are good things to come. The ending of the play where Mama is looking around the house while they’re moving out really stood out to me. “She looks around at all the walls and ceilings and suddenly, despite herself, while the children call below, a great heaving thing rises in her and she puts her fist to her mouth to stifle it, takes a final desperate look, pulls her coat about her, pats her hat and goes out.” (Page 150). There is so much Mama is leaving behind however she is starting a new chapter in her life, all the characters are and the theme of beginnings is very important in this scene.

  4. Hi Sofia,
    Personally, I enjoyed reading your blog post and I especially loved how you mentioned the ending of the play being a more realistic one and not the “Happily Ever After” scenario. I think the ending strongly concludes the fact that the Younger family constantly continues to strive for their dreams despite the many factors holding them back. At first, Walter called Lindner to “do business with him” (141) by accepting the money from him to keep them from moving into the house. However, when Lindner finally shows up in the last scene, we see a big change in Walter that we have not seen throughout the entire play. He makes the choice to tell Linder that they will be moving and they “don’t want [his] money” (148). In that moment, Walter has finally stood up as the “man” of the house and his family; He puts his families dreams first and lets go of his own personal burdens. This particular moment in the play is significant for the Younger family because it gives them hope for the future. They are leaving behind this home that is falling apart and literally has no more room for growth to a much bigger home filled with new opportunities. Obviously, the family is aware that the move will bring challenges but they do not settle to be stuck in this bubble of discrimination. Their is something so inspiring about the younger family because they are proud of one another and they are a very strong together which allows them to get to this point in life. I think what Lorraine Hansberry is indicating at the end of her play is that while there is optimism and hope in change, there is also struggles that will come along. This goes back to how it is not a “Happily Ever After” ending. It is very realistic ending that indicates that the Younger family will continue to grow together, regardless of the obstacles that are bound to happen with this new and well-deserved transition.

  5. Hi Sofia,
    What an insightful blogpost! This post had so much heart and thought seeping through it. I entirely agree that Act III the reader gets to know Beneatha in ways they haven’t before. You get an inside look of her childhood and where her dream of becoming a doctor was born. When Beneatha is telling Asagai the story about the boy from her childhood you understand why she wants to be a doctor. To me, I believe that story of Rufus reflects the fact that there is certainty in being a doctor. She thought that as a child she could become a doctor and fix any problem. This, as we all know isn’t the case for her relationships, her studies and overall her outlook on life. “That that was what one person could do for another, fix him up- sew up the problem, make him all right again” (133). I definitely feel she applies this mentality to all of her problems which is why she differs from her family at times. As a thespian, I love this play immensely. I think there is so much more in this singular play than just for entertainment value. This family, along with the issues they face are continuous and many people, regardless of their skin color can relate to the Youngers at some point or another. Hansberry was so intelligent and strong for making such a controversial play at the time she did, but gladly she did it anyways.

  6. Hi Sofia!! I agree that Asagai is in love with Beneatha. You can see this through their dialogues together, as well as the body language between the two. Beneatha knows that she can talk to Asagai when she is upset, and definetely does not feel this way towards George. When Asagai asks how she is doing, she responds with, “Me? . . . Me, I’m nothing.” (act 3). Because the moeny has been taken, Beneatha begins to slowly stop caring, as she is quoted saying in act 3 as well. Instead of letting her mourn the loss of this dream, Asagai tries to lift Beneatha up. He has always enouraged her. He brings up the point that it was never truly her money to begin with, thus leading Beneatha to come back to reality. Asagai always brings Bennie back down when she needs it most, he ground her, as well as supports her. This is in direct contrast to George, who told her to give up her dream from the start.

    I also somewhat appreciated the ending of the play, as it really did depict that the american dream really is not for all. Quite often, the American dream crushed the desires of the lower class who did not have the means to support this big dream. Although the Youngers can find hope and optimism in the darkest of places, this ending signifies that there is not always a happy ending.

  7. Hi Sofia!
    You did a great job with this. I agree that the story was more realistic, I liked it this way. I really liked how people started to talk to Walter normally again, even after his mistake. It shows how much family matters and how family love can help anything. Walter sticks up for the family and you can tell Beneatha appreciates it. on page 148 they have an interaction with Lindner…

    WALTER “And we have decided to move into our house because my father-my father- he earned it for us brick by brick. We don’t want to make no trouble for nobody or fight no causes, and we will try to be good neighbors. And that is all we got to say about that. We don’t want your money.”

    LINDNER “I take it then- that you have decided to occupy…”

    BENEATHA “That’s what the man said.”

    I loved this interaction because Walter finally “acts like a man” and like his father, so his family appreciates it. This shows Walter growing as a person and being able to stick up for his family and help like he has wanted to the entire book.

    I just thought it was an interesting part that showed the connections in the family growing and how Walter has grown, and Bennie helps him out.

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