A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry presents many themes that are found in everyday life. Some of these themes include the search for identity and self-respect, the real meaning of money, and the changing roles of women. The changing roles of women are portrayed through the differences between Lena and Beneatha. Lena represents the old woman, while Beneatha represents the new. This is shown through the differences in opinion about religion, marriage, and their dreams.
Lena and Beneatha have very different opinions about religion. Lena typifies traditional blacks that found personal fulfillment and courage for political and social action in God. Beneatha, however, does not find solace in God. Instead, she believes that man deserves credit for his own efforts. In Act I, Beneatha says, "How much cleaning can a house need, for Christ's sakes." (p. 34) Lena gets mad and Ruth says that Beneatha is "fresh as salt." (p. 34) Beneatha retorts, "Well- if the salt loses its savor." (p. .
34) Lena gets offended even at this mild sacrilege. Later, Lena says, "You going to be a doctor, honey, God willing." (p. 38) Beneatha replies, "God hasn't got a thing to do with it." (p. 38) She goes on to say, "God is just one idea I don't accept I get tired of Him getting credit for all the things the human race achieves through its own stubborn effort. There simply is no God- there is only man and it is who makes miracles." (p. 39) Lena rises across the room and slaps Beneatha in the face. She is so intolerant of Beneatha's beliefs that she makes her say, "In my mother's house there is still God." (39) In a sense, she is right. Lena is so demanding and intolerant; she is the God of the house.
Lena and Beneatha also disagree about marriage. Beneatha says, "Mama, Asagai-asked me to marry him today and go to Africa-."(p. 129) "You ain't old enough to marry nobody," Lena said. Beneatha seems to agree with her. Lena thinks of a more traditional marriage, with the husband ruling the roost.