The struggle for making it big and living wealthy has always been extremely relevant in the American culture. Everybody wants to be the top-dog, the alpha-male, and the king amongst his people. The Death of a Salesman and A Raisin the Sun are two tales about this struggle. They are about these two classic American families around the 1940’s that depict the common way of life along with the many tribulations that come with it. The book Death of a Salesman is about a typical white family living in New York, while the other book, A Raisin in the Sun is a typical black family in living Chicago. Although they may seem normal, they actually have many problems and differences that set them apart from other families and each other. They also share some similarities that you might not expect. I will be comparing and contrasting these two great plays.
In both stories the father is the main character or the center of attention throughout the books. They can be the protagonist and the antagonist because of how much their roles change in the plays. They both have goals to be their own boss and own their own business. They want live wealthy. Like when Walter says “ No--It was always money, Mama. we just didn't know about it”(Hansberry, ). I think this shows the eagerness and anxiety that Walter feels toward making money. In this pursuit of wealth they both end up betraying their families in one or many ways. For example, Walter Lee wanted to get involved in the liquor business and his mother received a check from her husband’s life insurance for ten thousand dollars. Walter Lee’s plan was to persuade her into giving him the money so he can invest into starting his business. His mother, after spending money on her dream, gave him what was left as long as he used three thousand dollars for his sister Beneatha’s medical school. What Walter decides to do is the climax of the story. He uses all the money and the then trusts that Willy(a so-called friend of his) will invest it for him but instead Willy runs off with the money and leaves Walter right back where he started, with nothing. Now Willy from Death of a Salesman betrayed his family by firstly, having an affair while he was suppose to be making sales and supporting his family. Then he ends up killing himself and taking the easy way out of his problems instead of confronting them.
Another comparison that can be made is the similarities and differences between Linda from the Death of a Salesman and Leena from A Raisin in the Sun. In the beginning, Leena seemed to be more stressed and tired than Linda like when she yells at travis in one of her first lines in the play saying “I say hurry up! You ain't the only person in the world that got to use a bathroom!(Hansberry,25) As to Linda who comes off as loving and a peacekeeper about her sons being home when she says “You know he admires, I think if he finds himself, then you’ll both be happier and not fight anymore”(Miller,15). This can make it seem that Linda appreciates her family more than Ruth, but in my opinion, she is like that because she is a bit naive of what her husband and son’s do. A similarity is that both of these wives were never fully respected and were being verbally abused. This can mean that the novels are a bit sexist, in the way the women are always being treated inferior to men. This judgement can be thrown out at the end when the wives ironically are in better position than the men at the end of the novels. In the end of the novel, Linda comes out and says she can't shed a tear for her husbands death after all the time she stood by him. In Leena’s case, it isn't as ironic but she turns out having a nice place to raise her son and her new baby. So what does this all mean? Well i believe that through hardship and pain the honest and righteous will stand tall at the end.
I believe one of the most obvious differences is the that one family had an advantage over the other or a better opportunity in America because of the color of the skin. That family was the Loman’s, a white american family. I’m not saying that they were spoon-fed the chance to be rich. What i'm getting at is that during this time frame there was a lot of racism and oppression towards black families and their communities and their way of life. This also might be the reason God was more present in A Raisin in the Sun than in Death of a Salesman. The Loman’s never even mention God unless they were swearing. They both also lived in typical locations where a struggling black and white family would live. The Loman’s had a small house in New York. The Youngers lived in a cramped apartment. This shows that the Youngers would be more likely to be stressed and frustrated, and they were. The Youngers had no choice but to be more involved in each others lives because of how close they lived together. With the Lomans, it was much different, they were sometimes clueless of what everyone else was doing. like when biff and Linda were talking and Biff tells her “I stole a suit in Kansas city and I was in jail”(Miller,31). This shows that the Loman’s didn't have the togetherness that was present in the Youngers household.
In conclusion the struggle shouldn't be about the pursuit of wealth, it should be the pursuit of happiness and if wealth is your happiness then i feel sorry for your lifestyle choice. What brings people together is love and compassion for one another not how much money you have or how big your house is or what name brand you are wearing. Many people have forgotten that and i think thats why our government is so corrupt and is run by the wealthiest who only plan on staying wealthy and helping the the wealthy stay in control. These guys in control don't care about us, they are just of bunch of bloodthirsty blood hounds only promising change if its in their benefit. If i were to pick the better family, i would have to pick the Youngers. At the end of the book they were given an option to pick money or pride and they stood by their values and chose to stick together as a family. The Younger’s, in my opinion chose the true American dream. Willy chose a different path and well, you know what happened to him.
“Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you”-Oscar Wilde