Abstract illustration of the houses of Clybourne Park

A Raisin in the Sun

by Lorraine Hansberry

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Act II, Scene 2: Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. What qualities do we see in George Murchison at the beginning of the scene that Beneatha might not like?

2. Why does Beneatha refer to him as a fool, when speaking of him to her mother? In what ways would she consider him foolish?

3. When Mrs. Johnson says, “I’m just soooooo happy for y’all,” do you think she is being honest or hypocritical? What later actions or words of hers either confirm or deny that she is speaking honestly here?

4. Why do Mama and Ruth roll their eyes before offering Mrs. Johnson the coffee? What do you think they are reacting to?

5. Why do you think Beneatha greets Mrs. Johnson so curtly? Why does Mrs. Younger object?

6. This question relates tangentially to the play and can be answered in many ways. What do you know about the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups like them which exist in the United States? Do you think they should be allowed to continue to operate or do you think they should be outlawed? State your reasons.

7. In your opinion, why has Walter’s drinking gotten worse?

8. Do you think Mrs. Younger made the right decision in deciding to give money for the liquor store venture to Walter? Why or why not?

9. What do we understand clearly when Travis asks his father if he’s drunk?

10. At the end of the scene, when Walter says he will hand the world to his son, do you think this will really happen? Why or why not?

1. George Murchison has a tendency to bully people (as when he referred to Walter as “Prometheus,” knowing Walter would not be familiar with that name). Beneatha is not a person to be easily bullied. So when it becomes apparent that he will not take her feelings seriously, she tells him to leave.

2. A fool is someone who does not have a sense of priorities or of highly developed values. It has become apparent at this point that Beneatha and Murchison have very different outlooks on life. Hers is serious and dedicated, while his is very conventional.

3. Based on her later statements, her continuing lack of tact, and her accepting the Youngers’ hospitality while being continually stingy with them, we see hypocrisy, not real joy, in Mrs. Johnson’s comment.

4. Since Mrs. Johnson has been hinting around for a cup of coffee after she has been given pie and milk, and since she is so frugal herself, a reaction such as this one would be expected from Mama and Ruth.

5. Beneatha and Mrs. Johnson are almost complete opposites in their personality characteristics. Beneatha would have very little patience with Mrs. Johnson’s hypocrisy, lack of courage, and indirect put-downs of the whole family.

6. The Ku Klux Klan is one of many hate groups in this country which are dedicated to violence as a means of discriminating against minorities. While they are allowed to exist, many of their tactics are illegal, and harm many innocent people. Fierce legal battles have been waged over their right to be. What most people feel, however, is that their right to exist is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution (the right of free speech), but that their tactics must be monitored and regulated so other people don’t get hurt.

7. Many people cannot drink the way most people do in social situations. For these people, drinking is a serious problem which they cannot easily admit, face, or do something about. If Walter could accept his drinking problem, he could find help. However, he does not seem capable of taking such steps.

8. Considering the fact that the money is for a liquor store and the fact that Walter has a serious drinking problem, this would probably not be considered a wise decision.

9. When Travis asks his father if he’s drunk, we see that the problem has become so severe that even his son is worried about it.

10. Although we see that Walter is happy over money for the liquor store, and although we know he has good intentions in saying that to his son, the problems Walter has had with his drinking, as well as with picking arguments with people, make us wonder about his ability to take his responsibilities seriously, even as they affect his son.

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