Life is full of disappointments. Sometimes people don't behave as we expect, plans don't go as we imagine, and our wishes aren't fulfilled. Many believe that the true test of a person's character is how he or she responds to these disappointments. Set in 1950s America, recovering from the Great Depression, in a time of racial tension and social unrest.Lorena Hansberry'A Raisin in the Sun' (1959) examines the social dynamics of the time.
This drama challenges issues ranging from racism, marriage, poverty and education to family dynamics, abortion and social mobility. "A Raisin in the Sun" was a revolutionary work for the time, in which the African-American protagonists were portrayed as serious and three-dimensional beings. Throughout we see each family member struggling with their own dreams and failures. So, consider how you react when you have "sleep delay"?
Why do you think Hansberry chose "A Raisin in the Sun" as the title of his drama?
Title "A Raisin in the Sun"
The drama's title is inspired by a poem by African-American Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes. The poem he refers to, "Harlem" (1951), is about life's aspirations and plans. Using the parable to examine what happens to unfulfilled dreams, Hughes examines the fate of unfulfilled dreams and the feelings of disappointment and hopelessness that result from failed goals. Figurative comparisons throughout the poem use imagery to illustrate that abandoned dreams can wither, decay, and subdue an individual's will. The last line of the poem uses a rhetorical question: "Or does it explode?" and shows how destructive dreams can be stored up.
How about a postponed dream?
is it drying?
How does one go about in the sun?
Or ooze like a wound -
And then run?
Does it smell like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar on top...
like a syrup candy?
maybe just sink
like a heavy burden.
Does it explode?
"Harlem" de Langston Hughes (1951)
In the poem "Harlem", the raisins represent unfulfilled dreams, Pexels.
Context "A raisin in the sun"
"A Raisin in the Sun" addresses crucial issues facing the people of the United States in the 1950s. In general, social groups, including minorities such as women and African Americans, were expected to conform to social standards, and any challenge to social policies was frowned upon.Lorena HansberryThe play revolves around an African-American family, the Youngers, who are struggling with the death of Mr. Younger, father of her now grown children. Prior to "A Raisin in the Sun," the role of African Americans in the theater was largely reduced to a set of stereotypical comic little characters.
Hansberry's drama explores the tensions between black and white society and the struggles African Americans face in constructing their own racial identity. While some believed that the right response to oppression was violence, others, like civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., believed in active nonviolent resistance.
When Lorraine Hansberry was young, her father spent much of the family's savings to buy a house in a predominantly white neighborhood. Carl Hansberry, her father and a real estate developer, bought a three-story brick house in Chicago and quickly moved in with his family. The home, now a landmark, was the focus of a three-year battle that Carl Hansberry fought on the Supreme Court. with support from the NAACP. The neighborhood was hostile and the Hansberry family, including the children, were spat on, verbally abused and beaten on their way to work and school. Hansberry's mother looked after the house while the children slept at night, a German Luger pistol in her hand.1
Synopsis for "A Raisin in the Sun"
A Raisin in the Sun is a drama written byLorena HansberrySet in the 1950s, it focuses on the Younger family, their relationships and how they navigate life in a time of extreme racism and oppression. After losing the family patriarch, Mr. Younger, the family must decide what to do with the life insurance policy money. Each member has a plan for what they want to use the money for. Mom wants to buy a house while Beneatha wants to use it for college. Walter-Lee wants to invest in a business opportunity.
As a subplot, Walter's wife Ruth suspects that she is pregnant and considers abortion an option, fearing that there is no space or financial support for another child. The family's different ideas and values cause conflicts within the family and lead the central protagonist Walter to make a bad business decision. He takes the insurance money and invests it in a liquor store. A business partner steals from him and his family must take care of his deeds.
A Raisin in the Sun Scenario
A Raisin in the Sun is set on Chicago's South Side in the late 1950s. Most of the play's action takes place in the Youngers' small two-bedroom apartment. Featuring a family of five living in a small apartment, the drama explores the family's internal dynamics as well as its external problems stemming from racism, poverty and social stigma. Mama, the family grandmother, shares a room with her adult daughter, Beneatha. Son of a bitch, Walter, and his wife, Ruth, share the other bedroom, while the youngest member of the family, Travis, sleeps on the sofa in the living room.
In a nation slowly recovering from the Great Depression, the Youngers are an African-American family that are among the demographic groups hardest hit by the effects of the Great Depression. Mum's husband and Beneatha and Walter's father have died and the family is awaiting life insurance money. Each member has a different desire and wants to use the insurance money to achieve their goal. The family collides with these conflicting desires as each individual struggles to find their path in life.
Characters from "A Raisin in the Sun"
A Raisin in the Sun marks one of the first times that an entire cast of African-American characters was the focus of a drama. For the first time, the characters are authentic, strong and real. Understanding each character and their role in the family is crucial to understanding the subject of the drama.
Big Walter is the family patriarch, father of Walter-Lee and Beneatha, and husband of Mama (Lena) Younger. He has just died when the play opens and the family is waiting for the life insurance money. The family must come to terms with the loss and come to terms with how to spend their life's work.
Mother (Lena) younger
Lena, or Mama as she is mostly called throughout the play, is the matriarch of the family and is struggling to come to terms with the recent death of her husband. She is Walter and Bennie's mother, a dedicated woman with a strong moral compass. Believing that a house with a yard is a symbol of social and financial stability, she wants to use her late husband's insurance money to buy her family a house. The house is in a better neighborhood than where the family currently lives, but in an all-white neighborhood.
Younger Walter Lee
Walter Lee, the protagonist of the play, is a driver, but dreams of becoming rich. His salary is meager, and although he earns enough to support his family, he wants to be more than just a chauffeur for rich white people. He has a strained relationship with his wife Ruth, but he works a lot and sometimes feels overwhelmed by the family's financial situation and other problems. His dream is to become an entrepreneur and have his own liquor store.
Under "Bennie" Jiinger
Below, or Bennie, is Walter's younger sister. She is 20 years old and a student. Beneatha, the most educated of the family, represents the evolving mindset of the more educated African-American generation and often finds herself at odds with her more conservative mother's ideals. Beneatha dreams of becoming a doctor and strives to be an educated African-American woman while honoring her culture and family.
Beneatha wants to graduate and become a doctor, pexels.
Ruth is Walter's wife and the mother of young Travis. She gets along with everyone in the apartment, although her relationship with Walter is a bit strained. She is a devoted wife and mother and works hard to keep the house and support her family. She looks older than she is due to her life struggles, but she is a strong and determined woman.
Although not used much today, the word "Ruth" is an archaic word meaning to have compassion or compassion for others and to repent of your mistakes. It is the root of the word "relentless", which is still used today.
Travis Younger, son of Walter and Ruth, is the youngest of the Youngers and represents innocence and the promise of a better life. He is understanding, enjoys playing outside with the neighborhood children, and earns what he can to help the family by carrying shopping bags for groceries at the supermarket.
Joseph Asagai is a Nigerian student, proud of his African ancestry and in love with Beneatha. He often visits Bennie at the apartment and she hopes to learn something about her background from him. He proposes to her and asks her to return with him to Nigeria to become and practice medicine.
George Murchison is a wealthy African American with an interest in Beneatha. Beneatha criticizes her acceptance of white culture, although younger people agree as it can give her a better life. He is a contrast character, and the two characters, Asagai and Murchison, represent the opposing philosophies that African Americans struggled with.
ANaluminum characterThis character serves as a foil for a second character to emphasize certain features.
Bobo is known to Walter and hopes to become a partner is Walter's business plan. He is oneflat characterAnd he's not very smart. Bobo is a dodo.
ANflat characterIt's two-dimensional, requires little backstory, is straightforward, and doesn't develop as a character or change over the course of the play.
Willy Harris is a con man posing as a friend of Walter and Bobo. Although she is never on stage, she coordinates business arrangements for the men and collects their money.
Mrs. Johnson is the Youngers' neighbor and cautions them against moving to a predominantly white neighborhood. She fears the struggles they will face.
Karl Lindner is the only non-African American in the play. He is a representative of Clybourne Park, the area the Youngers plan to move to. He offers them a deal to keep them out of his neighborhood.
Themes from "A Raisin in the Sun"
A Raisin in the Sun shows how young people deal with the prospect of chasing their dreams and the obstacles that stand in their way. Ultimately, they must determine what is most important in life. Some themes of A Raisin in the Sun are fundamental for understanding the drama.
The value of dreams
Dreams give people hope and the opportunity to move forward. Having hope means believing in a better future, and this belief generates a resilient spirit. Ironically, the insurance money from the death of a family member breathes new life into the Youngers' dreams. Suddenly, your goals seem achievable. Below you can see a future as a doctor, Walter can fulfill his dream of owning his own liquor store, and Mom can become a housewife for her family. In short, the mother's dream is one that comes true because it serves as a uniting element for the family and guarantees a better and more stable life for the little ones.
The importance of family
Proximity does not unite a family. We see this concept materialized in the actions of the work. Throughout the play, the family is physically united as they share a small two-bedroom house. However, their core beliefs lead them to argue and contradict themselves. As the matriarch of the family and the unifying force, Mom shows by example that family ties make people stronger. She manages to teach her children this when the whole family unites to refuse an offensive proposal from Linder, who offers money to keep her out of the neighborhood.
Important quotes from "A Raisin in the Sun"
The following quotes are central to the theme and meaning of "A Raisin in the Sun".
[And] Money is life.
(Ato I, Shene II)
This quote, voiced by Walter, reveals the idea that money is important to people's livelihood, but it proves that Walter has a warped sense of the true value of life. Mom remembers him explaining how her worries pale in comparison to worries about being lynched and explaining that he and she are different. Their life philosophies are very different, and in a larger context they serve as symbols for the coexistence of two different generations at this time. Mama's generation values basic freedom and the health of their families above all else. Physical freedom has always been a given for Walter, so his idea of freedom is financial and social mobility. He doesn't feel free until he can have the same benefits as white men. He sees that these inequalities can be overcome with financial wealth, which is why he is obsessed with money and is always in pursuit of it. For Walter, money is freedom.
Son, I come from five generations of people who were slaves and sharecroppers, but no one in my family ever accepts money, that was a way of telling us that we are not fit to walk the earth. We've never been so poor. (Raises her eyes and looks at him) We've never been like this, dead inside.
(Ato III, Sene I)
In this final act of the play, Lindner suggested that the younger ones stay out of the neighborhood. He offers them money not to buy a property in a white neighborhood. As Walter considers accepting the offer, Mama reminds him to be honorable and proud of who he is. She declares that he is worthy to "walk the earth" and that no one can take anything away from him. The mother tries to teach him the value of his own life, culture, heritage and family through money and material objects.
A raisin in the sun - main topics
- "A Raisin in the Sun" is a work byLorena Hansberrywhich was published in 1959.
- The drama is inspired by Hansberry's experiences as a child when her father, Carl Hansberry, bought a house in a predominantly white neighborhood.
- The work deals with issues such as racism, oppression, the value of dreams and the struggle to achieve them.
- The role of the family is central to the play's plot and helps to frame the theme of the importance of family and self.life, culture and heritageabout money and material possessions.
- A line in "Harlem", a poem by Langston Hughes, inspired the title "A Raisin in the Sun".
1. Eben Shapiro, "Cultural History: The Real-Life Backstory of "Raisins in the Sun""Wall Street Journal,(2014).