The Legacy of Stressors
The movie version of the play, “A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Vivian Hansberry, communicates the lifelong struggle of maintaining the legacies of family morals and values.
The movie recounts the life of a black family’s struggle to honor their individual dreams. It displays the difficulties of maintaining homeostasis and bringing their dreams to fruition, simultaneously. The interactive patterns and the affects of reciprocal determinisms on the family are the major themes of the play.
As the play begins a husband, Walter Younger, and wife, Ruth, are having an argument over Walter’s dream to become an entrepreneur by buying into a liquor store. His plan is to use an arriving insurance check for his mother, Lena, as down payment on this venture. Walter tells his wife that, “I’m trying to talk to you ’bout myself and all you can say is eat them eggs and go to work”. The transactional patterns of this argument are the first sign of the redundancy principal. Walter’s feelings, that no one in the family listens to him or respects his judgment, are reiterated throughout the movie. From Walter’s perspective, if his family would trust in his vision, and allow his dreams to become reality, his family would prosper and homeostasis would be maintained. Following this argument, Walter goes off to his job as a chauffeur, a job he finds demeaning. Walter would rather “be Mr. Arnold his employer than be his chauffeur.”
This Intrapsychic moment, illustrates a recurring motivation behind Walter’s epistemology that causes his conflict throughout the story. Walter begins to obsess the arrival of Mama’s check and the approaching possibility of his dream becoming a reality. He is now the identified patient. Walter’s psychopathology is affecting every member of the family in a pattern of circular causality. As his dream becomes larger-than-life, he changes–becoming oblivious to all but the arrival of his opportunity to stop dreaming. This movement away from the family focus is representative of the horizontal and vertical stressors he must contend with. With this in mind, it is no wonder that Walter feels frustration with his family. Lena Younger, Walter’s mother, says, “Your father would have been happy working for another man and caring for his family.” Walter, on the other hand, is more concerned with becoming self-employed without considering the consequences and the effects on his family. As the movie continues, Beneatha, the younger sister of Walter, reveals her epistemology on the existence of God. She speaks to her to her mother, Lena, saying, “I don’t believe in God”. This transaction is demonstrative of the developmental stage that Beneatha is experiencing called autonomy and separation. She is formulating her own concepts, which are based on the horizontal stressors of the world and are in direct conflict with the vertical stressors of her family. Lena’s response to her daughter is a slap to Beneatha’s face. Lena, speaking in a voice full of conviction and quiet control, saying to her insolent daughter, “Now, repeat after me, in my mother’s house–there is God.” Without hesitation and tears in her eyes, Beneatha repeats the overt words her mother spoke and completely understood the covert messages of her mother’s tonality. This event shows another time in which a family member threatens to ruin the inherent stability of the family structure. Beneatha, although believing to be bettering herself, is leaving an important part of herself and her heritage behind. Beneatha’s speech about God is her attempt to show her independence and uniqueness in the world, but when she asserts herself in an area that is extremely sensitive to the family heritage and structure, she threatens to wean herself from the only guaranteed support group in life, the family. Once again, as with Walter, Beneatha realizes later in the story that it is the furtherance of long-standing family values and morals, which give the foundation upon which to build a wonderful life.
These examples illustrate just a few of the many ways in which family beliefs and goals do not always benefit the family unit and are sometimes a source of conflict amongst its members. Consequently, the larger group goals are sometime lost because of the continual race for individual goals.
In contrast, the