Raisin in the Sun

  • A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

     

    Importance

    • 1st play about an average African American Family
    • “Black is Beautiful”
    • Abortion was a topic of the play

     

    • New York Drama Critics Circle Award, 1959, for A Raisin in the Sun
    • Cannes Film Festival special award, 1961, for A Raisin in the Sun (screenplay)

     

    “A Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes

    What happens to a dream deferred?

    Does it dry up
    like a raisin in the sun?
    Or fester like a sore--
    And then run?
    Does it stink like rotten meat?
    Or crust and sugar over--
    like a syrupy sweet?

    Maybe it just sags
    like a heavy load.

    Or does it explode?

     

     

    Setting

    The 1950’s

    Chicago Housing Project

    The Younger’s Apartment

    The Younger Family (4 adults and 1 child) all live in a two bedroom apartment in Chicago.

     

    Themes

    The Value of Dreams

    Racial Discrimination

    The Importance of Family

     

    Genre

    Drama-Play and Movie

    Realistic Fiction

    Autobiographical

     

    Author--Lorraine Hansberry

    The play is autobiographical.

    Her family was involved in a lawsuit to break up racial discrimination in Chicago’s white neighborhoods.

     

    Symbols

    “Eat your Eggs”

    Mama’s Plant

    The plant represents Mama’s care for the family and her dreams for a better future, a house. She is always taking care of the plant. The plant does not get enough water or light in their apartment.

    Beneatha’s Hair

     

    Characters

    Lena Younger-Mama

    Mama’s husband has died

    She has just inherited his $10,000 life insurance policy

    The matriarch of the family

    Mama, wants to buy a house to fulfill a dream she shared with her husband.

    Walter Lee Younger

    Walter Lee, works as a chauffer

    He wants to use the money to invest in a liquor store with his friends.

    He believes that the investment will solve the family’s financial problems forever

    Walter wants to be the man of the family and provide for them all.

    He begs his mother to let him have the insurance money.

    Ruth Younger

    Walter’s wife

    Ruth, agrees with Mama’s dream

    Ruth does not always support Walter’s dream

    Ruth and Walter Lee love each other, but have different dreams.

    They worry about being poor and not having enough money for the future.

    Ruth finds out she is pregnant and thinks about having an illegal abortion because the family is poor.

    Beneatha Younger

    Beneatha is going to college.

    She wants to be a successful Black woman, a doctor.

    She wants to embrace her African heritage.

    Travis Younger

    Walter and Ruth’s son

    Travis sleeps on the couch and plays with rats in the street.

    Joseph Asagai

    From Nigeria

    Wants Beneatha to become a doctor, marry him and move to Africa.

    George Murchison

    A wealthy Black man wants to date Beneatha.

    He has assimilated into White Society to be successful

    Ignores his Black heritage.

    Karl Lindner

    From the Clybourne Park Improvement Association.

    The only white character in the play.

    Offers the Younger family money to stay out of his all-white neighborhood.

    Bobo 

    One of Walter’s partners in the liquor store plan.

    Bobo appears to be as mentally slow as his name indicates.

    Willy Harris 

    A friend of Walter and coordinator of the liquor store plan.

    Willy never appears onstage.

    He steals money from Walter Lee and the Younger Family.

    Mrs. Johnson

    The Youngers’ neighbor.

    Mrs. Johnson takes advantage of the Youngers’ hospitality

    Warns them about moving into a white neighborhood.