The title of the play "A Raisin in the Sun" comes from a line in a Langston Hughes poem: "What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun" (Tackach 5/6)? Lorraine Hansberry's play confronts crucial issues that have faced African Americans: the fragmentation of the family, the black male's quest for manhood, and reflects the circumstances of African Americans in the 1950's, at the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement (Tackach 4/6). Mama (Lena) of the Younger family is to receive a ten thousand dollar insurance check after the death of Big Walter, Mama's husband and father to Walter and Beneatha, which could possibly fulfil each one of their dreams. Hansberry demonstrates how the Younger family endures their deferred dreams mainly through the characters of Walter, Mama (Lena), and Beneatha. When a family faces deferred dreams, it can cause rising tempers amongst the family, defiant attitudes, and great sadness.
Early on in the play, Walter begins to show his heightened temper when he lashes out at his wife because she doesn't necessarily support his dream of investing the ten thousand dollars in the liquor business. Ruth refuses to help Walter coerce Mama into giving him the insurance money for the investment. Walter seemingly a good man confesses to his wife Ruth his inner failures, hoping to win over her support when he says, "I'm thirty-five years old; I been married eleven years and I got a boy who sleeps in the living room – and all I got to give him is stories about how rich white people live" (98). Ruth doesn't appear to care for Walter's failures at that moment; she is simply not interested in his liquor business and tells him to eat his eggs.