A Raisin in the Sun Study Guide
A Raisin in the Sun: Chapter Summaries
A Raisin in the Sun: Themes
A Raisin in the Sun: Characters
A Raisin in the Sun: Analysis
A Raisin in the Sun: Critical Essays
A Raisin in the Sun: Multiple-Choice Quizzes
A Raisin in the Sun: Questions & Answers
A Raisin in the Sun: Introduction
A Raisin in the Sun: Biography of Lorraine Hansberry
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.