A Raisin in the Sun Act III: Summary and Analysis
by Lorraine Hansberry

A Raisin in the Sun book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Download A Raisin in the Sun Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Act III: Summary and Analysis

As the act begins, Joseph Asagai has come over to help with the packing. Beneatha, upset about the lost money, tells him what has happened. She speaks, very dejectedly of the dreams she had of being a doctor, and of having her aspirations dashed. Her friend, however, is incredulous at the level of her despair. He speaks to her about not giving up her idealism, and not insisting life be perfect in order to accomplish what she wants. He reminds her that it was not her money to begin with, and that lost money does not have to mean an end to medical school. Yet Beneatha is still filled with self-pity.

Finally, almost as if to wake her up, he starts yelling about the conditions in the part of the world he comes from (Nigeria). He tries to give her a sense of perspective in terms of what has happened to her and her family, but what also is the fate of so many other people who have it so much worse than they do. Beneatha does not want to be jarred from her bad mood, however, and nothing he says seems to help.

Finally, he tells her he would like to marry her and take her back with him to Nigeria to practice medicine when she completes medical school. Despite her best attempts to stay in a bad mood, she does start to respond favorably when he says this to her. She is confused, and he tells her, “Never be afraid to sit awhile and think,” as he goes to the door to leave.

Joseph leaves and Walter comes into the room. He is looking for something frantically, but we do not know what. His sister, still angry about the lost money, taunts him as he does. He finds what he is looking for and rushes out.

Ruth comes in, and then Mama does. Mama tries to be cheerful but talks about unpacking and staying in the cramped apartment instead of moving to Clybourne Park. Ruth becomes alarmed and tries to get Beneatha to convince her mother to continue with the move, saying how four grown people can work to make enough money to live in the house. Even though she sees Ruth becoming desperate, Mama says that this is a time to acknowledge they must give up.

Walter comes back and tells them he has called Lindner. Beneatha cannot believe hat she is hearing, but in a very cynical monologue, Walter repeats his deep despair at realizing any hopes for himself except to be one of the takers” in life, like Willie Harris, who stole their money, and not one of the “tooken.”

Both Mama and Beneatha are filled with revulsion for this plan. Nevertheless, he is not dissuaded, citing the need to put some pearls on his wife’s neck, while his mother and sister decry the lack of dignity this dealing with Lindner would represent. Finally, his sister says he is not a man, but a toothless rat.

Walter retreats to another room, and his sister speaks of him to their mother in most disrespectful terms. Her mother, however, reprimands Beneatha for her attitude, telling her that the most important time to show love to her family member is not when he is feeling fine, but when he is in the most trouble.

As the moving men arrive, so does Lindner. In the midst of his babbling platitudes, he takes out legal papers to enact the deal, whereby the family get some money in return for not moving into the house.

Walter talks to Lindner. He recounts his life as a chauffeur, and the work his mother and wife do as domestic workers. Lindner makes conventional replies to Walter’s words, just wanting to get down to business.

Suddenly, Walter recalls an incident where his father almost beat a man to death who had called him a bad name. He goes on to talk about the pride his family feels, especially in his sister’s aspirations to become a doctor. He surprises Lindner by telling him that they will be moving into the house. He ends his speech, in a total character transformation, by saying. “We don’t want your money.”

Lindner asks the family if they agree with that, and Beneatha says, “That’s what the man says.” As he leaves, Lindner says, “I sure hope you people know what you’re...

(The entire section is 1,632 words.)