- A Raisin in the Sun is centered around the persistent deferral of the Younger family’s dreams. The Youngers are a working-class Black family with various dreams of upward mobility. Walter wants to take control of his life, restore his sense of masculinity, make his family proud, and eventually take on a new role as head of the Younger household.
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A Raisin in the Sun A Raisin in the Sun portrays a few weeks in the life of the Youngers, an Black family living on the South Side of Chicago in the 1950s. When the play opens, the Youngers are about to receive an insurance check for $10,000. This money comes from the deceased Mr. Younger’s life insurance policy.
- Dominic A Taylor, Lorraine Hansberry
A Raisin in the Sun examines the effects of racial prejudice on the fulfillment of an African-American family’s dreams. The play centers on the Youngers, a working-class family that lives in Chicago’s South Side during the mid-twentieth century.
A Raisin in the Sun, a play by Lorraine Hansberry, is the story of a lower-class African American family living on the Southside of Chicago during the 1950s. The family seeks to move into a home in...
- 6 min
A Raisin in the Sun: Summary & Analysis The play depicts the feelings and thoughts of the people of their time. Their feelings are different then what we see today in our lives. The family had to deal with poverty and racism.
A Raisin in the Sun is a three-act play set entirely in the Younger family’s Chicago tenement apartment. As the play opens, Walter Younger, Sr., referred to as “Big Walter,” has recently died,...
Analysis: Act I, Scene i All of the characters in A Raisin in the Sun have unfulfilled dreams. These dreams mostly involve money. Although the Younger family seems alienated from white middle-class culture, they harbor the same materialistic dreams as the rest of American society.
- New Characters
Mrs. Lena Younger (Mama): a woman in her sixties, employed as a domestic worker, mother of Walter and Beneatha, grandmother to Travis Walter Lee (Brother): a man of 35, employed as a chauffeur, married to Ruth, brother of Beneatha, father to Travis Beneatha: a 20-year-old young lady, college student, sister to Walter Lee, planning to go to medical school after college Ruth: a woman in her early thirties, employed as a domestic worker, married to Walter, mother to Travis, sister-in-law to Beneatha Travis: a boy about 10 years old, son of Walter and Ruth, grandson of Mrs. Lena Younger
The play opens on a typical early morning during the week, as the Younger family gets ready to go to school and work. After a reference to another bombing (referring to a racist attack on a Black church or family), the family makes preparations for the day. Mention is also made of a check the family expects to receive the next day. It is for the life insurance of the elder, deceased, Mr. Walter Younger. Travis wants 50 cents for school, which the teacher has asked the students to bring in. Ruth says they do not have the money to spare. Travis asks if he can go carry groceries after school to earn some money, but his mother wants him to come home right after school. His father gives him the 50 cents and another 50 cents in addition, before Travis leaves for school. Walter and Ruth then talk, and he discusses his scheme for a liquor store he wants to open with some of the insurance money. Ruth dislikes the idea for many reasons, as well as the idea of his getting involved with the men...
The title of A Raisin in the Suncomes from a 1951 poem by Langston Hughes entitled “Montage of a Dream Deferred,” which appears at the very beginning of the play: Many of the conflicts depicted in the first scene of the play relate to this theme of dreams deferred. For instance, there is the conflict between Walter’s dream of a liquor store and his wife’s pragmatism and desire for respectability, as reflected in this exchange: It is important to analyze actions and motives of characters in order to come to an understanding of what the author intends to convey. It is highly significant that some of the first words in Scene 1 refer to the check the family expects to receive the next day, as well as a series of bombings (racist attacks on Black churches and homes) in the news. This sets the tone for two indicative themes in the play, that of how the family will use the insurance money, and the danger Blacks are in while living in a society that tolerates racism. These themes will appea...
- Plot summary
The Youngers are a poor African-American family living on the South Side of Chicago. An opportunity to escape from poverty comes in the form of a $10,000 life insurance check that the matriarch of the family (Lena Younger or Mama) receives upon her husband's death. Lena's children, Walter and Beneatha, each have their plans for the money. The oldest son, Walter (a man of 35 with a wife and a young son), wishes to invest in a liquor store. The younger sister, Beneatha, currently a college student, wants to use the money for medical school. Lena has plans as well for the money: she wants to buy a house for the family and finance Beneatha's medical school.
The environmental pressures are high: five people live in a tiny one-bedroom apartment, two families share a single bathroom, and the building is run-down and roach-infested. These pressures increase when Walter's wife, Ruth, finds out that she is pregnant for the second time, and begins seriously contemplating abortion. Yet even in an environment where a request for fifty cents becomes a family conflict, there is room for ideas and dreams.
Beneatha Younger is the source of the many of the new ideas and philosophies that infiltrate the family's home. Currently in college, she is constantly challenging the notions of culture, race, gender, and religion that her family has grown up with. She is dating two men who represent very different aspects of African-American culture. George Murchison, the first, is a wealthy African-American classmate of Beneatha's. Through his character, Hansberry is able to illustrate many of the class tensions that exist within the African-American culture. Asagai is her second boyfriend, a college student who is from Nigeria. Through Asagai, Beneatha is able to learn more about her African heritage. He gives her Nigerian robes and music, encourages her idealistic aspirations, and near the end of the play invites her to return to Nigeria with him to practice medicine there.
Walter Younger truly encapsulates the American dream. He has a genuine entrepreneurial spirit and desire to progress. Walter doesn't want to challenge the present system as Beneatha does. Instead, he wishes to progress up the social ladder into a higher class. He is unsatisfied with his job as a chauffeur, and wants a big house, a nice car, pearls for his wife, and an office job. In short, he desires the bourgeoisie lifestyle. Walter's idolization of wealth and power actually creates a deep hunger within him for change, but as long as obstacles like racism keep him stagnated, his hopes and dreams fester. After several events, Mama realizes the significance of his plans even though she morally objects to the idea of a liquor store. After having made the down payment on a house in a predominantly white neighborhood, Lena gives her oldest son responsibility over the rest of the insurance money, asking him to put away a significant portion for his sister's medical school education. To the contrary, Walter decides to invest all the money in the liquor store business with two men of questionable character. The plan falls through when Willy, one of the \\"investors\\", runs away with all of the money. The family is entirely dependent on the money: they already have made plans to move, and are in the midst of packing up their things. Devastated, Walter seriously considers taking an offer from Mr. Lindner, a representative from the white neighborhood, that would pay the Youngers extra not to move into their neighborhood. The option is immoral in the family's eyes, and prioritizes money over human dignity. Walter is determined to make the deal despite his scruples, but at the last moment Walter is unable to make the transaction under the innocent gaze of his son, Travis. In the end, the family decides to move. Even though the road ahead will be difficult, they know that they have made an honorable choice.