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In dysfunctional families, conflicts between members of the family occur continuously and regularly. Family members in dysfunctional families are often disbarred from being unique and may also endure abuse and neglect. The Youngers in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun undergo both loving and hateful moments throughout the play. The Youngers are a dysfunctional family as they have many beliefs and behaviors which causes repeated conflict within the family. To begin with, the Youngers let money diminish their family relations. Moreover, the Youngers are discouraged and punished from stating their own opinions. Finally, they put their needs and wants before those of their fellow family members.

The large check that Lena Younger (Mama) had received causes the family to fight over it and turn on each other. Walter’s want for money causes it to be his highest priority in life. When Mama declines Walter’s request for the money, he responds by saying, “Because it is life Mama… No ⎼⎼ it was always money, Mama” (Hansberry 74). Here Walter says that money is life, rather than freedom or family. He is putting money as his highest priority in life rather than his own family. Mama barely challenges Walter’s thinking and does not try to set his goals and priorities straight. Ultimately, this leads to Walter continuing to put money first like when he tries to sell their new house to Lindner despite the family’s protests. Walter lets material things get in the way of his family relations, and his decisions throughout the play which are mostly based on money cause continuous conflict within the family. Also, when Walter loses the insurance money, his family turns on him. When Walter is distraught over losing the money, Beneatha says this to Mama, “That is not a man. That is nothing but a toothless rat… I said that individual in that room is no brother of mine” (Hansberry 144-145). Beneatha was angry over Walter losing the money, which included her schooling money. She goes as far as disowning Walter as her brother. If Mama had not consulted Beneatha after this, she probably would have never let it go. She let the money harm her family relationship with her brother and caused conflict over it. Overall, the Youngers let third-party objects like money deteriorate their relations and disputes within the family.

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Furthermore, the Youngers have many conflicting ideas on large issues and struggle to be able to express themselves and their ideas, which hurts the functionality of their family. When Beneatha reveals her beliefs about God, it causes tension in the household. When Mama scolds Beneatha for using the Lord’s name in vain, Beneatha replies to her by saying, “Mama you don’t understand. It’s all a matter of ideas, and God is just one idea I don’t accept” (Hansberry 51). Throughout the play, it is shown that the Youngers are a highly Christian family. After Beneatha had said this, Mama and Ruth had a serious argument over it. Religion often plays a substantial part in a family and defecting from your household’s religion could cause tension. Mama slaps Beneatha and forces her to say that in her house there is still God. Mama uses physical harm and silences Beneatha from stating her own opinion. Those are both signs of dysfunctionality which is present within the Younger household. Additionally, Ruth’s decision to abort the baby shows how members of the Younger family are discouraged from voicing their independent opinions. After Walter learns of Ruth’s decision, Mama says, “And I’m waiting to see you stand up and say we are people who give life, not who destroys them” (Hansberry 75). Mama disagreed with Ruth’s decision to abort the upcoming baby. While Walter was stunned, Mama was forcing him to tell Ruth not to do it. Instead of letting Walter voice his own opinion on the matter, he was told to give a certain answer. It shows that the Youngers are dysfunctional as they have no freedom to say what they want. Ultimately, the Youngers have no freedom as they are expected to obey and believe what the head of the household (Mama) believes is right.

At last, the Youngers’s lack of empathy and selflessness causes the family to have continuous conflict. Throughout the play, the Youngers fight selfishly over what the money should be used for. While Beneatha is arguing that the money is Mama’s, Walter says to her, “You such a nice girl ⎼ but if Mama got that money she can always take a few thousand and help you through school” (Hansberry 37). Here, Beneatha wanted Mama to have the money as she would be more likely to help her pay her tuition rather than Walter. Walter wanted the money for his dream and Beneatha wanted it for hers. They did not think of a way of splitting the money between each other, they wanted all or nothing. This led to continued conflict as they neither considered nor thought about how important each person’s dream was to them. In addition, Mama buying the house was another act of selfishness. After Mama had bought the house and was talking to Walter, Walter says, “What you need me to say you did right for? You the head of this family. You run our lives like you want to” (Hansberry 95). Mama bought the house as she thought it was the best for the family. She did so without consulting the family or considering what everyone in the household wanted. This causes conflict as Walter feels that no one thinks of him and that he is not represented in the decision. In a functional household, consulting between family members is usually done before a big decision, like buying a house. In conclusion, the Youngers’s selfishness allows conflict to be persistent within the family.

The Youngers in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun endure many conflicts throughout the play which debilitates the functionality of their family. They let money hurt their ties and allow it to cloud their judgment and decisions. Additionally, the Youngers have many different opinions conflicting with each other. However, they are typically discouraged and punished for stating their opinion. At last, the Youngers are a very selfish family. They only seek to fulfill their desires and do what they think is best, without truly finding out what is the right thing for their family. Ergo, dysfunctional families suffer from many conflicts. If they do not try to support each other no matter their different views, dreams, or beliefs, the overall happiness in the family will dwindle and it may affect the family members’ mentality and beliefs in the future.

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