A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

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How does the setting of the apartment reflect the family's problems in Hansberry's play A Raisin in the Sun?

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At the beginning of Act I, Hansberry spends a significant amount of time describing the Younger's apartment.  This apartment in many ways reflects the problems the family faces - it is overcrowded, "tired" and worn out, poverty-stricken, and lacking in light. 

The author sets the stage with her opening words:

The Younger living room would be a comfortable and well-ordered room if it were not for a number of indestructible contradictions to this state of being.  Its furnishings are typical and undistinguished and their primary feature now is that they have clearly had to accommodate the living of too many people for too many years - and they are tired (23).

This is an apartment designed for far fewer people.  Mama and Beneatha are forced to share a bedroom, Walter and Beneatha sleep in what used to be a breakfast room, and Travis must sleep on the couch - which creates issues when the adults are up late talking, as Walter was the night before.  It is this sense of the apartment being already overcrowded that leads Ruth to later think of getting an abortion.  To make matters worse, they must share a single bathroom with another couple on their floor.

The apartment, Hansberry points out, was not always this way:

At some time ... the furnishings of this room were actually selected with care and love and even hope - and brought to this apartment and arranged with taste and pride (23).

Mama and her husband moved into this apartment many years before, thinking it would only be a temporary residence until they could buy themselves a house.  That dream never materialized, so now, many years later, she is still living in the same apartment - with three generations forced to make the best they...

(The entire section contains 591 words.)

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