Full title…A Raisin in the Sun.The title comes from the Langston Hughes poem, “Harlem (What Happens To A Dream Deferred?)”.

Author/Playwright…Lorraine Hansberry

Type of work…Play

Genres…Realist drama/Romance


Time and place written…1950s, New York

Date of first performance…1959

Date of first publication…1959

Publisher…Random House


Setting (Time/Place)…Between 1945 and 1959/The South Side of Chicago.

Storyline (Play)…Lorraine Hansberry’s landmark drama was one of the first on Broadway to examine African-American life on the cusp of the civil rights era.An African-American family struggles with poverty, racism, and inner conflict as they strive for a better way of life. Walter Younger and his mother, Lena, both yearn to move their family out of Chicago’s Southside ghetto. When Lena’s late husband’s insurance check arrives.A substantial insurance payment could mean either financial salvation or personal ruin for a poor black family.Lena hopes to use it to buy a house in a white neighborhood — while Walter hopes to invest it in a liquor business.

Storyline (1961 Movie)…Walter Lee Younger is a young man struggling with his station in life. Sharing a tiny apartment with his wife, son, sister and mother, he seems like an imprisoned man. Until, that is, the family gets an unexpected financial windfall.My favorite character in this film is matriarch Lena Younger, impeccably performed by Claudia McNeil. Mrs. Younger is a wise,loving mother and grandmother to her family. While she may not always agree with her children’s decisions, she never stops loving them.Sidney Poitier is brilliant as the defeated Walter Lee Younger. Walter is frustrated with his job as a chauffeur, and believes he has more to offer the world.Ruby Dee is great as Walter’s supportive and level headed wife.The dialogue and issues that are discussed reinstate the values upon which America was built.

Protagonist…Walter Lee Younger

Major conflict…The Youngers, a working-class black family, struggle against economic hardship and racial prejudice.

Rising action…Ruth discovers that she is pregnant; Mama makes a down payment on a house; Mama gives Walter the remaining insurance money; Walter invests the money in the liquor store venture.

Climax…Bobo tells the Youngers that Willy has run off with all of Walter’s invested insurance money; Asagai makes Beneatha realize that she is not as independent as she thinks.

Falling action…Walter refuses Mr. Lindner’s offer to not move; the Youngers move out of the apartment to their new house in the white neighborhood; Beneatha finds new strength in Asagai.

Plot Keywords…neighborhood, black family,apartment,racial discrimination,racial segregation

Themes…”A Raisin in the Sun” is one of the finest American films ever made. This film discusses many vital issues, such as racism, abortion, trust, family values, greed, and even atheism.Its themes can be summarized as the value and purpose of dreams, the need to fight racial discrimination, the importance of family etc.

Motifs…Racial identity, the home

Symbols…“Eat your eggs,” Mama’s plant, Beneatha’s hair

Foreshadowing…Mrs. Johnson’s news that a black family’s house has been bombed foreshadows the objections that the Clybourne Park Improvement Association will raise to the idea of the Youngers moving in; Walter’s hints to Travis that he is investing the insurance money foreshadow the disappearance of the money.

Quotes…Walter Lee Younger: [to George Murchison, Beneatha’s date] How come all you college boys wear them faggoty-looking white shoes?See more quotes later

Regents English Prep Online


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