2302) “There is Always Something Left to Love”

A Raisin In The Sun, Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil, Diana Sands, Sidney ...

A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965), from the 1961 movie


     The 1959 Broadway play “A Raisin in the Sun” tells the story of a black family in Harlem.  They never had much money and saw little chance of escaping their poverty.  Then the father died and the family learned he had a $10,000 life insurance policy.

     This unexpected money will allow the mother to fulfill her dream.  She had always wanted to get out of her small ghetto apartment and have her own home.  In 1959 ten thousand dollars was enough to make that dream come true.  Now, she would finally have that little house in the nice neighborhood with window boxes filled with flowers.

     Mama has two grown children, and they also have dreams.  Her daughter Beneatha wants money to go to medical school, but she is not getting along with Mama.  Son Walter sees the money as a chance to go into business with a friend, and then they will have plenty of money to make all their dreams come true.  Walter is a good son and a good husband, but never had an opportunity to get ahead.  He works, but the good jobs aren’t there for him, and he sees this as his only chance.  He pleads with his mother for the money, promising he will pay it all back, make much more, and everything will work out.

     Mama doesn’t want to give him the money.  She wants the little house with the flower boxes.  But she has seen her son’s growing discouragement and cannot deny him his dream.  She gives Walter the money, Walter gives it to his friend, and his friend leaves town.  There was no golden business opportunity, just a scam, and now the money is gone.

     Walter comes home to tell his mother.  He is battered and beaten and crushed.  Mama is downcast, but sympathetic and loving.  But Beneatha explodes in anger.  She flies into a rage, ridicules Walter, and condemns him for destroying all the family’s dreams.

     When Walter leaves, Beneatha says, “That is not a man. That is nothing but a toothless rat.”

     Then Mama speaks to Beneatha.  Mama says, “I thought I taught you to love him.”

     “Love him?” Beneatha says, “There’s nothing left to love.”

     Mama replies, “There is always something left to love, and if you ain’t learned that yet, you ain’t learned nothing.  Have you cried for that boy today?  I don’t mean for yourself and our family because we lost the money, but for him?  Have you cried for him and for what he has been through and for what it has done to him.  Child, when do you think is the time to love someone the most—when they’ve done good and made things easy for everyone?  No.  The time to love the most is when he’s at his lowest and he can’t believe in himself because the world done whipped him so.  When you start to measure somebody, measure him right.  Measure him right.  Make sure you think about all the hills and valleys he come down through before he got to wherever he is.”

     That mother knows about grace, and how to love and forgive.  When you don’t deserve love and you get love, that’s grace.  When you don’t deserve to be forgiven, and you are forgiven, that’s grace.  Beneatha did not understand that kind of love and grace.  Had Walter been successful and made lots of money and paid back the ten thousand dollars and doubled it or tripled it, then she would have loved him.  But that isn’t loving or caring about the other person.  That is loving and caring about yourself.

     Walter meant well.  He did not mean to hurt his mother and sister.  But he did, and Mama forgave him.  When Jesus went to the cross, his enemies intended to do  him harm; accusing him falsely, declaring him innocent and condemning him to death, torturing him cruelly, nailing him to a cross for a slow and agonizing death, and insulting him even as he was dying.  Yet Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

     Answering Beneatha’s tirade, Mama had said, “There is always something left to love.”  Jesus could still see in each of his enemies that child of God they were created to be, ‘something left to love and to forgive.’

     The Bible sometimes compares God’s love to the love of a mother.  Isaiah 66:13 says, “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”  Jerusalem was the place of so many of the Jews’ failures, disappointments, and crushed hopes.  Yet God continued to forgive, to comfort, and to heal.

      A Raisin in the Sun is a heartbreaking tragedy, but it is also a wonderful story of the love of a mother, of forgiveness, and of reconciliation.  The story gives us just a glimpse of the kind of love God has for us.  God knows all of our stories, all eight billion of us alive today.  He knows how we have all failed him and let Him down; not financially like Walter, but morally and spiritually.

     Even so, God still loves each one of us, and offers his forgiveness and eternal life to all who will receive Him.


Romans 5:10  —   If while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life.

Luke 23:34a  —  Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Isaiah 49:13b-15  — The Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.  But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.”  (The Lord says), “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?  Though she may forget, I will not forget you.”


Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a poor sinner.

–Ancient Jesus prayer