The play opens with references to when the check for this insurance will come and is a central motif. Its arrival instigates happiness and anger and is also the means by which Hansberry is able to denote betrayal when Willy Harris steals Walter and Beneatha’s share.
The constant early references to it are used as a repetitive device to illustrate how little the family has and they also demonstrate how vital money is when one has very little. Because of this centrality, the check represents the dire effects of poverty and the play may in turn be interpreted as succumbing to capitalism and middle-class values if this is the only way the Youngers may escape the prejudices they face. However, the loss of the greater part of the money and the family’s unity at the end come together to tell the reader/viewer that it is only by uniting that prejudice can be challenged; money helps, of course, but it is not a panacea.
With an element of irony, Mama tells Beneatha that this plant expresses her. It is tired and feeble, yet it continues to live on despite the lack of sunshine. Although a somewhat simplistic symbol, this plant also becomes a metaphor for maintaining hope despite inequalities and lack of opportunities.
It is also a means for Mama to show her tenderness as she is often depicted looking at it, holding it or sprinkling water on it. In this light, the plant represents the ability to love all things, as Mama says she has taught her children to do, and even though it is only just living, it still deserves attention.