Introduction to A Raisin in the Sun

A Raisin in the Sun is a play by Lorraine Hansberry. Debuting in 1959, it was the first Broadway play to have been written by a Black woman. The play’s focus on the experiences of a Black family left many prospective investors questioning its relevance to theater-going audiences. However, their doubts proved false, and A Raisin in the Sun was well-received by both audiences and critics, with the New York Drama Critics’ Circle naming it the best play of 1959. In addition to its contemporary popularity and enduring success, the play is also credited with helping make the New York theater community more diverse and inclusive. The plot of the play revolves around the Younger family, who must decide what to do with the $10,000 life insurance check they have received after the passing of the family patriarch. Ambitious son Walter wants to invest the money in a liquor store, while daughter Beneatha hopes to use some of the money to pay for her education. Matriarch Lena, meanwhile, wants to support the family by using the money as a down payment on a house. After buying the house, Lena gives portions of the remaining money to both of her children, but Walter promptly loses both his and Beneatha’s shares through a bad investment. To make matters worse, the white residents of the neighborhood the Youngers plan to move to attempt to bribe them out of living there. However, through these hardships, the members of the Younger family learn more about the true meanings of ambition, family, race, and self-respect.

A Brief Biography of Lorraine Hansberry

Lorraine Hansberry (1930–1965) based her most well-known play, A Raisin in the Sun, on her own experience as a young Black woman living in a white neighborhood. It was not a pleasant time. In fact, Hansberry’s family was involved in a famous discrimination lawsuit that was eventually seen before the Supreme Court: Hansberry v. Lee, in 1940. Her family fought against a covenant that tried to keep Black families from buying houses. They won the lawsuit, but their time in the neighborhood, and Hansberry’s experiences at her predominantly white high school, were, in her words, “hellishly hostile.” A Raisin in the Sun was the first play written by a Black American woman to be produced on Broadway. Hansberry was also the first Black woman and the youngest person to win the New York Drama Critics Award.

Frequently Asked Questions about A Raisin in the Sun

A Raisin in the Sun

A portmanteau is a word made up of two separate words. Common examples include “armlet”, which is a combination of “arm” and “bracelet”, and “camcorder”, which combines “camera” and “recorder”. In...

Latest answer posted November 16, 2020, 6:51 pm (UTC)

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A Raisin in the Sun

Mr. Lindner, a representative of the Clybourne Park Improvement Association, introduces himself to the Youngers as a “sort of welcoming committee.” This means that he greets people about to move...

Latest answer posted November 17, 2020, 12:23 pm (UTC)

5 educator answers

A Raisin in the Sun

One of the major questions raised by Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun is what power means, and how it is related to money. At first it seems as though money confers power, so that Mama...

Latest answer posted November 18, 2020, 11:35 am (UTC)

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A Raisin in the Sun

Walter dreams of owning his own business, specifically a liquor store. He believes the only way to get ahead is to be self-employed. Walter dreams big and is the type of person whose dreams soon...

Latest answer posted November 18, 2020, 11:07 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Raisin in the Sun

In A Raisin in the Sun, Walter Lee is not a tragic hero. There are two points in the play when he might arguably be regarded as tragic, and one when he can be seen as heroic. However, these...

Latest answer posted November 19, 2020, 11:18 am (UTC)

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A Raisin in the Sun

In A Raisin in the Sun, Beneatha's last line is to say that she would not marry George even if he were Adam and she were Eve. At the most basic level, she does not marry him because she does not...

Latest answer posted November 19, 2020, 11:34 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Raisin in the Sun

A Raisin in the Sun is a play written by Lorraine Hansberry. It was first put on stage in 1959. The plot follows the story of the Younger family, a Black family living in the slums of Chicago. It...

Latest answer posted November 19, 2020, 11:51 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Raisin in the Sun

In A Raisin in the Sun, Walter Lee attempts to cut short a conversation with his mother by going out. The following dialogue ensues: MAMA It’s dangerous, son. WALTER What’s dangerous? MAMA When a...

Latest answer posted November 19, 2020, 11:54 am (UTC)

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A Raisin in the Sun

Lorraine Hansberry's play A Raisin in the Sun focuses on the Youngers: a Black family living in poverty in Chicago's south side. The play features many conflicts, both internal and external, but...

Latest answer posted November 19, 2020, 12:06 pm (UTC)

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A Raisin in the Sun

A Raisin in the Sun ends on an upbeat note. After Beneatha attacks Walter as a broken man "down on his knees," Mama defends him. She says a person most needs to be loved when they are most in need,...

Latest answer posted November 18, 2020, 11:36 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Raisin in the Sun

So long as the American Dream retains a firm grip on the national psyche, A Raisin in the Sun will continue to be relevant. The Younger family are all motivated to become wealthy and successful, to...

Latest answer posted November 18, 2020, 11:47 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Raisin in the Sun

At the end of Lorraine Hansberry's play, A Raisin in the Sun, Beneatha announces that Joseph Asagai has asked her to marry him and go to Africa. The two men who have been competing for Beneatha's...

Latest answer posted November 18, 2020, 12:14 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Raisin in the Sun

In Act One, Scene Two of A Raisin in the Sun, Lena Younger (Mama), her daughter Beneatha, and her daughter-in-law Ruth have a conversation about the relationship between marriage and career. As the...

Latest answer posted November 18, 2020, 6:24 pm (UTC)

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A Raisin in the Sun

Lena gives Walter all sixty-five hundred dollars that she has left of the insurance money after she has made a down payment on the house. She intends for Walter to invest the money in his liquor...

Latest answer posted November 17, 2020, 8:52 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Raisin in the Sun

In Lorraine Hansberry's play A Raisin in the Sun, the Younger family receives a life insurance payment of $10,000 following the recent death of Big Walter, the father of the family. The majority of...

Latest answer posted November 16, 2020, 3:41 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Raisin in the Sun

The title of Hansberry's play A Raisin in the Sun is entirely appropriate as its overriding theme is that of dreams deferred. The Younger family is full of hopes and dreams, but for one reason or...

Latest answer posted November 16, 2020, 11:24 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Raisin in the Sun

Realism as a genre of literature became immensely popular in the mid- and late-twentieth century; many playwrights and novelists incorporated numerous realist themes and elements in their works,...

Latest answer posted November 17, 2020, 3:06 pm (UTC)

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A Raisin in the Sun

Beneatha is one of the more interesting characters in the play. To a large extent, this is because she's set apart from the other members of her family in terms of both her educational background...

Latest answer posted November 17, 2020, 11:15 am (UTC)

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A Raisin in the Sun

Walter Lee Younger takes all the money Lena gives him and attempts to invest it in his liquor business. After Lena sympathizes with her son and realizes that she has been neglecting his dreams, she...

Latest answer posted November 17, 2020, 11:58 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

A Raisin in the Sun

It doesn’t appear as if A Raisin in the Sun was ever officially banned. Unlike other texts—including James Joyce’s novel Ulysses and Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl—the play was never put on trial....

Latest answer posted November 17, 2020, 2:55 pm (UTC)

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