A Raisin in the Sun Questions and Answers
by Lorraine Hansberry

A Raisin in the Sun book cover
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I need to know the audience and purpose of A Raisin in the Sun.

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In the late 1950s, when Lorraine Hansberry wrote this play, it was almost unheard of for a mainstream, commercial play to feature all black characters. The only white person in A Raisin in the Sun, Karl Lindner, is a very minor (though important) character. Most Broadway and off-Broadway plays for white audiences had all white characters, or, if they included African Americans, those characters were likely to play small roles, such as servants. Furthermore, the kinds of challenges that the Youngers face—such as the difficulty of becoming a business owner and the reality of segregated housing—had never been presented in the mainstream theater.

Hansberry has written of the experiences that her own family faced in moving to a formerly segregated neighborhood. She drew on these experiences in creating the complicated situation in which the Youngers are involved. When she wrote the play, she was not convinced that it would ever be produced. When she finished the first draft, she thought, “I...

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