A Raisin in the Sun

  • A Raisin in the Sun

     Author/Playwright: Lorraine Hansberry

    Lorraine Hansberry

    A Raisin in the Sun was the first play in America about an average American Black family. Also, the first play written by a black woman to appear on Broadway.

    Hansberry home

    This is the Hansberry home in Chicago

    The play is semi-autobiographical.

    Born on Chicago’s Southside. The Hansberry family moved to a white suburb when she was eight. Angry whites gathered in front of their house.  A brick was thrown through the window that narrowly missed her. The police were unwilling to protect the family.  Later the State Supreme Court ordered the family out of the house. Lorraine Hansberry died in 1963, at age 34 from pancreatic cancer.

    The Setting

    Urban-the city of Chicago

    The Slums of Chicago, Illinois

    Southside of Chicago

    Ghetto-a part of a city, poor, segregated by race/religion


    slums 1 slums 2


    The Younger Family Apartment

    • Family of 5
    • 2 Bedrooms
    • No Private Bathroom
    • Several families share a bathroom in the hallway
    • Central Room (Kitchen, Living Room, Travis’ Bedroom, sleeps on the couch)
    • No Privacy, Crowded


    Walter Younger, Senior

    • Has just died
    • Had a $10,000 life insurance policy
    • Source of sudden wealth for the family
    • Source of Conflict
    • Never actually seen in the play


    Lena Younger-Mama

    • Very religious
    • Very Moral (disapproves of alcohol and gambling)
    • Family Oriented
    • Her dream: a home for her family
    • Works as a housekeeper
    • The matriarch of the Younger Family

    walter lee

    Walter Lee Younger

    • Mama’s son
    • Works as a chauffeur-drives a car for a wealthy white man
    • Married, has 1 son
    • Dream: to own a business, be his own boss, financial independence
    • Dreams t be the PATRIARCH of the Younger family

    ruth younger

    Ruth Younger

    • Walter’s wife
    • Finds out she is pregnant
    • Considering an illegal abortion
    • Dream: a happy family
    • Works as a laundress


    Beneatha Younger

    • College Student
    • Walter’s sister
    • Torn between cultures (black and white)
    • Dream: a college education
    • Tired of being an “assimilationist” acting the way white people want black people to be


    Travis Younger

    • Walter Lee and Ruth's son
    • He represents the future of the Younger family

    Travis Younger

    Act 1:1

    The play opens in the Younger Family apartment.

    Younger Family Apartment

    All of the main characters are introduced.


    • Black families are just like white familes
      • They get up in the morning
      • use the bathroom
      • eat breakfast
      • get ready for work or school.


    • Establish that the Youngers are POOR
      • Apartment is very small
      • furniture is worn out
      • very clean and well maintained
      • 5 people share a 1 bedroom apartment
      • Ruth and Walter sleep in the bedroom
      • Mama and Bennie share the dining area
      • Travis sleeps on the couch
      • There is no bathroom in the apartment
      • The family must share a bathroom in the hallway with other families
      • Travis asks for money for school, family really does not have extra money


    • Ruth does not feel well
      • Ruth is pregnant and worried
      • Ruth is secretly considering an abortion
      • Walter does not realize his wife is pregnant
      • Mama is thrilled, there will be another baby
      • Bennie is upset, the apartment is too small and crowded, Where are they going to put a baby?


      • Illegal in the United States in the 1950's
      • Legalized in the USA in January 1973
      • Supreme Court Case: Roe vs. Wade