Abstract illustration of the houses of Clybourne Park

A Raisin in the Sun

by Lorraine Hansberry

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Last Updated on May 3, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1229

Sample Analytical Paper Topics

These are topics on which you can write a substantial analytical paper. They are designed to test your understanding of major themes and details from the play as a whole. Following the topics are outlines you can use as a starting point for writing an analytical paper.

Topic #1

In thinking of the Langston Hughes poem from which the title of this play was taken, the key concept of dreams deferred comes to mind. Choose three characters in the play and state what their dreams are, including symbolism related to their dreams.


I. Thesis Statement: Mrs. Younger, Walter Lee, and Beneatha have cherished dreams. These dreams reveal a great deal about the nature of the characters’ longings which unjust societal expectations cannot destroy.

II. Mrs. Lena Younger’s dreamsA. Maintaining her family with dignity1. Preserving the memory of the elder Mr. Younger2. Enjoying a stable and secure family lifeB. Having her own garden to tend to1. The garden as representing aspirations held dear

2. The persistence of that which is valuable in the long run sprouting forth into the world also symbolized by this central metaphor

III. Walter Lee’s dreamsA. Material success1. Prosperity for himself and his family, to be able to provide for them well2. Not to be one of the “tooken” in lifeB. Liquor business1. Oblivion through alcohol, a defeatist dream, headed toward despair2. An inversion of the “American dream”

IV. Beneatha’s dreamsA. Medical school1. Dedication to humanity’s ills symbolized2. Hatred, prejudice, and violence cast as the world’s ailmentsB. True love in marriage1. Choosing not to marry rather than marry someone she does not feel understood by2. Rejecting a conventional marriage based on wealth

V. Conclusion: The dreams of the Younger family show the power of positive aspirations in the face of overwhelming odds.

Topic #2

The references to Mr. Walter Younger Sr. in the play make his presence felt to us, even though he is deceased when the play begins. Thinking of the personalities and character development of his grown children, what do you think Mr. Younger would have been proud of or would have disapproved of, if he had lived?

OutlineI. Thesis Statement: The elder Mr. Younger shared values and a vision with Mrs. Younger which would have been reflected in his pride or disappointment in his grown children.

II. Shared life with Mrs. Lena YoungerA. Desire for stable family lifeB. Grief over lost babyC. Commitment to providing for his family in the face of the world’s hostility to their survival

III. Walter LeeA. Pride in fine family Walter headsB. Pride in Walter’s steady employmentC. Disappointment and disapproval of Walter’s drinkingD. Disapproval of Walter’s liquor store schemes

IV. BeneathaA. Approval of her plans for medical schoolB. Approval of her college educationC. Disapproval of her bickering with her brotherD. Disapproval of her low tolerance for other people’s opinions if they don’t correspond with her own1. Rudeness to Mrs. Johnson2. Calling George Murchison an “assimilationist”

V. Conclusion: The grown children of the Younger family have developed along lines the elder Mr. Younger would have both been proud of and have disagreed with, according to the values and hopes for his family he and Mrs. Younger shared.

Topic #3

The image of a garden to tend to is reminiscent of Voltaire’s Candide and supplies a central metaphor of the play. In the Voltaire work, it symbolizes finding one’s own areas of peace and nurturing...

(This entire section contains 1229 words.)

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in a tormented world. What gardens do the members of the Younger family have to tend to, metaphorically speaking?


I. Thesis Statement: The members of the Younger family all have “gardens to tend to,” areas of tranquility and well-being in otherwise difficult lives.

II. Voltaire’s CandideA. Voltaire, French writer of Candide 200 years ago1. Well-versed in the philosophy of his day2. Wrote scathing attacks on hypocrisy and misguided societal trends in his worksB. Central metaphor of a garden to tend to drives Candide

III. Beneatha’s gardenA. Her college education and plans for medical school provide her with hope for her futureB. Her belief in marrying for love also keeps her hopeful

IV. Mrs. Younger’s gardenA. Mrs. Younger wants to move to the new house because it has a gardenB. Memories of her life with Mr. Younger supply her with inspiration to go on and make the best life she can for her family

V. Ruth Younger’s gardenA. Ruth’s love for her family is a source of strength in her lifeB. Ruth wants a bigger house in which to raise the baby

VI. Walter Lee’s gardenA. Liquor store plans as “false garden”B. His strengthening character is his true source of strength and hope

VII. Travis’s gardenA. He wants to be a bus driver when he grows up

VIII. Conclusion: While there is much strife in the lives of the Younger family, there exist areas of peace and hope in their lives and aspirations.

Topic #4

It is said that character is destiny. What do you see as the characters of three people in the play, and do you think this supplies the direction for their destinies in life?


I. Thesis Statement: The characters of three people in the play supply the direction of their lives and the underpinnings of their destinies.

II. George MurchisonA. He displays arrogance toward people1. He disapproves of Beneatha’s haircut2. He calls Walter “Prometheus”B. Ultimately, because of his attitudes, he is rejected by Beneatha

III. Mrs. JohnsonA. She is very much a conformist1. She tries to dissuade the family from moving to the white neighborhood2. She never gains the respect of the Youngers

IV. Karl LindnerA. He is hypocritical1. Irony is seen in his mission to the Youngers and the name of the committee he represents, which is called a “welcoming” committeeB. He is arrogant1. He refers to the Youngers as “you people”C. He finally fails in his attempt to stop the family from moving into Clybourne Park

V. Conclusion: Aspects of the characters of people in the play direct their destinies.

Topic #5

Do you think it is right of George Murchison to call Walter “Prometheus”? What is Murchison implying about Walter when he calls him this name? Do you agree with his assessment of Walter? Why or why not?


I. Thesis Statement: When Murchison calls Walter “Prometheus,” we are compelled to decide whether or not it as an accurate or fair assessment.

II. Who Prometheus wasA. What he did for mankindB. Place in Greek mythologyC. What his punishment was

III. Walter’s predicamentsA. His dream of owning a liquor storeB. His alcoholismC. Symbolism and reasons in his wanting the store

IV. Similarities between Prometheus and WalterA. Defiance of powers that beB. Defiance of unjust authorityC. Sense of being punished

V. Differences between Prometheus and WalterA. Fire as boon to man; liquor as dangerous to peopleB. Prometheus’s self-sacrifice for mankind; Walter’s extreme self-centered materialism

VI. Is it fair of Murchison to call Walter Prometheus?A. Some of his observations are accurateB. Some of his observations are unfair because Murchison has advantages Walter never hadC. Walter was picking on MurchisonD. Walter should expect people to react in anger when he taunts them

VII. Conclusion: Murchison’s assessment of Walter as a modern-day Prometheus is accurate in many ways, though it is unfair in other ways.


Critical Overview


Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Literature Series A Raisin in the Sun Analysis