Abstract illustration of the houses of Clybourne Park

A Raisin in the Sun

by Lorraine Hansberry

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Act 2, Scene 2 Summary

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A few weeks have passed, and the Youngers are preparing to move to their new home. George and Beneatha return from a date, sitting on the couch. However, as George attempts to kiss her, Beneatha rebuffs him, more interested in continuing their conversation. An impatient George explains that she is a good-looking girl and that he doesn’t date her to hear about her thoughts. He continues trying to make romantic moves, but an irritated Beneatha asks him what he thinks the point of an education is. George dismisses the idea that education is about intellectualism, instead stating that he goes to school so he can get his degree and be done. Beneatha dismisses him for the night, and he leaves. 

When Lena enters the apartment, she asks Beneatha how her evening went. Beneatha responds by saying that George is “a fool,” and Lena remarks that Beneatha shouldn’t waste her time on fools. Beneatha is touched, and she thanks her mother for finally understanding her. Beneathea returns to her room as Ruth enters, and Lena asks Ruth if Walter is home. He is, but he is also implied to be drunk.

Mrs. Johnson, the Youngers’ neighbor, knocks on the door, and Ruth and Lena share a look of mutual weariness. Mrs. Johnson cheerfully greets the Youngers, patting Ruth’s stomach in an overfamiliar fashion. She compliments them on their upcoming move but then pulls out a newspaper and mentions a concerning series of reports about Black families who have had their homes bombed for moving into white neighborhoods. Mrs. Johnson then asks how Walter is doing, remarking that he is an ambitious man and speculating that he is the one who is moving the family to Clybourne Park. She “bets” the Youngers will be in the papers after their move, envisioning a headline like “NEGROES INVADE CLYBOURNE PARK—BOMBED!”

A shocked Lena and Ruth exclaim that they certainly are not moving with the intention of being bombed. Mrs. Johnson reassures them that she is praying nothing bad will happen to them, but with Chicago having seen such an uptick in racial crime, it is something that has to be considered. This exchange is interrupted by Beneatha, who greets Mrs. Johnson curtly as she makes her way to the bathroom. Mrs. Johnson criticizes Beneatha’s attitude, implying that she has become prideful as a result of her education. She then remarks on Walter’s apparent dissatisfaction with his job as a chauffeur, stating that there is no shame in it. However, Lena responds by saying that Walter shouldn’t have to wait on other people. Mrs. Johnson accuses the Youngers of being “proud-acting colored folks” and gives them the newspaper before returning to her own home. 

Ruth answers the phone for Mrs. Arnold—Walter’s boss’s wife—who informs her that Walter has not been to work for three days. Ruth is shocked, but she covers for her husband by saying he has been sick. After hanging up, she incredulously asks Walter what he has been doing. He explains that he took the three days off to drive around in his friend Willy’s car and experience “leisure,” going to a club called the Green Hat to listen to jazz music. 

A distraught Lena pulls an envelope out of her bag and hands it to Walter, explaining that she has been “wrong.” She only ever wanted what was best for her son, but she believes that she has only contributed to his dissatisfaction and held him back. She used $3,500 of the insurance money for the house, but she is now giving Walter the remaining $6,500. She tells him to set aside $3,000 for Beneatha’s education but to do whatever he pleases with the remaining $3,500.

An ecstatic Walter greets his son, who has come to wish him a good night. He asks Travis what he wants to be when he grows up and laughs when Travis says he wants to be a bus driver. He encourages his son to “dream bigger,” as he believes the “business transaction” he is about to make will make anything possible. He envisions himself as a CEO and fantasizes about having a gardener and driving a nice car. He lifts Travis into the air and promises to “hand [him] the world.”

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Act 2, Scene 1 Summary


Act 2, Scene 3 Summary