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A Raisin in the Sun was written by Lorraine Hansberry. She was born on May 19, 1930 in Chicago, Illinois. Lorraine Hansberry was the first black American playwright to achieve success on Broadway. Hansberry became interested in theater in the 1950s where she later moved to New York to begin a career in writing. In 1958, she raised funds to produce this play. Hansberry was the youngest writer and the first black artist to ever receive the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. Ms. Hansberry received many awards and acknowledgements for A Raisin in the Sun. She was the fifth woman and winner of the first black playwright to win the Best Play of the Year Award. Lorraine Hansberry shared a working relationship with Robert Nemiroff, who was the producer of several of her works. In 1959, her first play A Raisin in the Sun made its debut in New York. Lorraine Hansberry achieved many challenges and opened many people eyes in the modern life of their days. Hansberry's family became one of the first to move into a white neighborhood, but Hansberry still attended a segregated public school for blacks. Hansberry creates in the Younger family one of the first depictions of a black family on an American stage, in an age when black audiences simply did not exist. Hansberry shows in A Raisin in the Sun, an entire black family in a realistic light, one that is unflattering and far from comedic. Hansberry wrote that she always felt that she needed to record her experiences. So at times her writing including A raisin in the Sun is a story about a black family attempting to escape living in the projects by buying a house in the suburbs. In 1961, Hansberry's film adaptation of the play won a Cannes Festival Award and was nominated Best Screenplay. A Raisin in the sun is about the value and purpose
of dreams, the need to fight racial discrimination, and the importance of family. It was revolutionary work for its time. A Raisin in the Sun Portrays a few weeks in the life of the Younger's, an African American family living on the South Side Of Chicago in the 1950s. The Younger's are about to receive an insurance check for 10,000 and each of the adult members of the family has an idea of what they want to do with money. Lena Younger, Walter and Beneatha's mother, is a religious and strong hearted woman who wants to use the money as a down payment on a house with a backyard to fulfill her dream for her family to move up in the world. Walter Younger is the protagonist of the play and is also a dreamer. He wants to invest his dead father's insurance money in a new liquor store venture. Beneatha is an intellectual 20 year old who is currently in college and is better educated than the rest of the Younger family. She wants to become a doctor and with the help of the insurance money she can. Ruth Younger, Walter's wife and Travis's mother, takes care of the Younger's small apartment. Travis Younger, Ruth and Walter's sheltered son, earns money by carrying grocery bags and likes to play outside with other neighborhood children. Other minor characters in the play consist of Joseph Asagai, who is a Nigerian student that is in love with Beneatha. He is very proud of his African heritage and Beneatha hopes to learn about her African heritage from him. Mr. Karl Lindner, the only white character in the play, and is form the Clybourne Park Improvement Association. After closing the deal with the Younger's to move into their new house, Mr. Lindner later offers them a deal to reconsider moving into his all white neighborhood after receiving complaints from all the neighbors. Bobo, one of Walter's partners in the liquor store plan, appears to be as mentally slow in the play as his name
indicates. Willy Harris, a friend of Walter's and coordinator of the liquor store plan, never appears on stage which helps keep the focus of the story on the dynamics of the Younger family. The last character, Mrs. Johnson, is the Younger's neighbor. Mrs. Johnson takes advantage of the Younger's hospitality and warns them about moving into a predominately white neighborhood. A Raisin in the Sun is essentially about dreams, as the main characters struggle to deal with circumstances that rule their lives. It is a story about a black family striving to escape their miserable lives in the projects. They live in a two bedroom home where mama and Beneatha share a room and Ruth and Walter share the other. Young Travis sleeps on the living room couch because there is nowhere else for him to lay his head. There's no bathroom, but a hall one that they share with other tenants. There is little income inside the Younger's home and Ruth makes that clear when Travis opens up the play stating that he has to take 50 cents to school. Ruth says they do not have it but Walter gives it to him anyways. Walter and Ruth begin showing marriage problems early in the play. They tend to argue about their unhappy lives in which Ruth shortens by telling Walter to "Eat your eggs, they gonna be cold." "Eat your eggs, they gonna be cold" appears early in the play as an instruction from Ruth to Walter to quiet him. Walter then employs the phrase to illustrate how women keep men from achieving their goals. The eggs she make everyday symbolize her mechanical approach to supporting him. She provides him with nourishment, but always in the same predictable way. After Ruth and Walter's argument, Beneatha engages into an argument with Walter who thinks that she should be doing something more womanly than studying medicine, especially since her
tuition will cut into the insurance check. Mama and Ruth engage into a conversation about what should be done with the money and Ruth began to feel that maybe mama should give Walter the money in hopes of regaining his happiness and confidence to better their lives and marriage. Mama instead wants to move into a house with a lawn in which Travis can play. Owning a house had always been a dream she had shared with her husband, now he is gone so she nurtures this dream more powerfully. Beneatha then enters the room and states that her friend George is coming over and that they're about to go out. Beneatha isn't too excited about the date because she doesn't really care for him. Mama and Ruth begin to tease Beneatha about her liking towards George. They feel she should like him because he is rich. Beneatha then uses the Lord's name in vain in front of mama who becomes outraged and says "no outraged behavior will be used in her household" and Beneatha jus storms out the room. Mama and Ruth begin another conversation where Ruth suddenly faints. Ruth eventually wakes and mama advises her to go to the doctor immediately. Walter comes home and receives a call from Willy Harris, whose coordinating the liquor store venture. He hangs up the phone overwhelmed and dreaming of the moment when the check will arrive. Beneatha begins to clean the apartment with insecticide in an attempt to get rid of the cockroaches. Beneatha and Travis start arguing and Beneatha threatens him with the spray gun in a playful manner. Later that day, Beneatha invites a friend over to the still-dirty apartment much to mama's knowledge in which she disagrees. Beneatha begins to explain that his is from Africa and that she wants him to teach her more of her heritage since its being highly ignored. Mama wonders where this current curiosity is coming from, but doesn't say anything about it
and decides to keep her comment to herself. Ruth enters the room after returning from the doctor because of her sudden faint and states that she is two months pregnant. Ruth feels ill and anxious about her pregnancy so mama tries to help her relax. Beneatha's friend Joseph Asagai has arrived and has brought Beneatha some gifts. They engage into a conversation where Asagai teases Beneatha about being very serious about finding her African identity through him. Asagai obviously cares very much for Beneatha and wonders why she doesn't have that same feeling for him. She explains that she is looking for more than storybook love. Mama comes into the room and introduces her to Asagai. Mama is charmed by Asagai and later the check arrived. Walter returns home from work knowing that the money is there and begins to talk about his liquor store plans. Ruth enters the room and wants to discuss her pregnancy with Walter, but becomes upset when he will not listen. She shuts herself up in the room when she realizes no one is paying her no attention in her time of need, not even her own husband, because his main focus is on the check! When Walter realizes that mama is not talking towards giving him any money he becomes upset. Mama sits down with Walter where he begins to talk about his poverty, his job as a chauffeur, and his lack of upward ability. When he finishes mama comes out and tell him that Ruth is pregnant and that she feels that Ruth is considering abortion. Walter didn't believe that until Ruth entered the room to tell them she has already made a down payment on a service. Walter becomes angry and storms out the room without saying a word, Ruth shuts back up in the room, and mama takes a seat to catch a breath from all the chaos. Beneatha comes out the room and begins dancing around the apartment in the Nigerian clothes that Asagai bought her. She
removes her headdress where mama notices that she has cut her hair in an awful attempt of trying to support her heritage. Beneatha ignores mama and goes to her room to change to get ready to go to the theater with George. When George arrives, Walter comes home drunk and begins to make fun of George's white shoes. Ruth becomes embarrassed by Walter's behavior and states that his white shoes are part of the college style. George and Beneatha finally leave and Walter and Ruth begin to fight about Walter going out, spending money, and interacting with people like Willy Harris. Mama settles the chaos when she announces that she has put a down payment on a home with some of the insurance money. Everyone is happy, but by the look on Walter's face you could tell he was upset. Everyone becomes worried when they hear that the house is in Clybourne Park, an entirely white neighborhood. Walter feels betrayed, he feels his dream has been swept right from under him! Mama manages without crying since Walter made her feel guilty and remained sitting and worrying. The next day the Younger's apartment is full of moving boxes. Beneatha's friend George comes over to help them with the move. George and Beneatha sits down and have a talk and George wants to kiss her. She does not want to kiss him because to her it seems that George wants to marry a "niceâ€¦simpleâ€¦sophisticated girl." Beneatha later kicks him out and both Beneatha and mama agree that she shouldn't be with no fool. Mrs. Johnson, the Younger's neighbor, visits and tells mama that a black family has been bombed out of their home in the white neighborhood. The Younger family does not let that get them down they are excited about moving into their new home and is certain that no one can change that. Days have
gone by, 3 to be exact, and Walter has not been to work he states that he has been wondering all day and drinking all night. He says that he feels depressed and is a useless man of the family. Mama feels sorry for Walter and gives him the remaining 6,500. He is to deposit 3,000 into the bank and keep the remaining 3,500, he then became happy and full of excitement. A week later it is moving day. Ruth and Walter went out to the movies and even held hands. Beneatha teases them of their stereotypical fashion but does not really mean any harm. Karl Lindner, a representative from Clybourne Park Improvement Association, arrives and tells the Younger's that problems have arise when different kinds of people do not sit down and talk to each other. He reveals that he and the neighborhood coalition believe that their presence in Clybourne Park would destroy the community there. Mr. Lindner offers them more money than they are to pay for the house in exchange for not moving to Clybourne Park. Walter, Ruth, and Beneatha all start to voice how they feel to Mr. Lindner, they all begin to state that they're moving into the house whether or not anyone likes them. Walter firmly tells Mr. Lindner that they will not accept the offer and urges him to leave! Mama comes home and everyone tells her about Mr. Lindner's visit. She is shocked, but is happy about their refuse. She is also excited to finally see Walter be happy and stand up for something instead of always feeling own, depressed, and unworthy. They all then begin showering her with gifts where she becomes happier because she only received gifts on birthdays and Christmas. Just as the family begins to celebrate, Bobo arrives and immediately needs to speak with Walter. Walter leads him downstairs to the front of the building when Bobo tells him that Willy Harris has run off with all the money he has invested. Cobbs 8
Walter is scared and repeatedly stating that ''Bobo you're lying, this can't be true!" Bobo runs off with no sense of remorse towards Walter's loss. Walter goes back to the apartment with a sad face and tears and breaks the news to everyone. Everyone becomes upset and begins to cry and is devastated by what Walter has done. The money that was left was for him and Beneatha to share. Beneatha is very hurt and begins to scream at Walter in an angry manner because she can't believe he has done this to her. Walter knew how much Beneatha wanted to become a doctor and he knew she needed that money to fulfill her dream. Mama just can't believe Walter would do something so foolish even after the fact of her giving him some of the money. Mama became upset and began beating Walter in the face she later shuts up in her room. Throughout the day things seemed to have calmed down but everyone still has rage towards Walter and there's quite a strong tension in the house. Mama enters and announces that they are not moving. This makes everyone even madder, well at least those who really cared. Having heard the news from mama, Walter leaves to go call Mr. Lindner. He returns stating that he has invited Mr. Lindner Back to the apartment and that he intends to take his offer of money in exchange for not moving to Clybourne Park. Everyone objects to Walter's plan. Mama has declared that he has died inside. Mama is so hurt that Walter would betray them and give up on the family's hopes and dreams of moving into a house of their own. Beneatha has decided that he is no longer her brother, but mama reminds her to love him, especially when he is downtrodden. Mr. Lindner arrives where mama tells Walter to deal with him. Walter tells Mr. Lindner that the Younger's have pride and is moving into their new home regardless of what anyone has to say. Everyone is so proud of Walter!
Mr. Lindner leaves with unsigned papers and is devastated and quite nervous about the Younger's decision to remain moving into the house. Everyone is proud of Walter's final decision of not giving up on the family dream and heads to their new house. Mama is last to leave, but not before grabbing her plant. Mama's plant represents both Mama's care and her dream for her family. In her first appearance onstage, she moves directly toward the plant to take care of it. She confesses that the plant never gets enough light or water, but she takes pride in how it nevertheless flourishes under her care. Her care for her plant is similar to her care for her children, unconditional and unending despite a less-than-perfect environment for growth. The plant also symbolizes her dream to own a house and, more specifically, to have a garden and a yard. With her plant, she practices her gardening skills. Her success with the plant helps her believe that she would be successful as a gardener. Her persistence and dedication to the plant fosters her hope that her dream may come true. With the new house, they are well on their way to the complete fulfillment of their dreams. Mama's last moment in the apartment and her transporting of her plant show that although she is happy about moving, she continues to cherish the memories she has accumulated throughout her life. Hansberry implies, then, that the sweetness of dream fulfillment accompanies the sweetness of the dream itself. Mama pauses on her way out of the apartment to show respect and appreciation for the hard work that went into making the dream come true. Her husband lingers in her recollections, and when she says to Ruth a few lines earlier, "Yeah-they something all right, my children," it becomes almost an invocation of their unmistakably solid futures. Lorraine Hansberry was a successful African American writer
who didn't receive many acknowledgements and awards which everyone thought she deserved. Lorraine looked at everyone as ordinary people, black and white, African American and European. Being a successful black woman/man in those days weren't easy. Lorraine Hansberry strived hard in what she believed in and became a successful black writer influencing everyone around the world to follow what they believe in. The middle class Younger family main concerns were of buying a home, but never thought of it being in the "white folks" neighborhood. Hansberry was one of the first playwrights to create realistic portraits of African American life. A Raisin in the Sun can be considered a turning point in American art because it addresses so many issues important during the 1950s in the United States. Before this play, African-American roles, were usually small and comedic, largely employed stereotypes. Lorraine Hansberry didn't let that stop her from making her dream come true. After a long battle of cancer, she died on January 12, 1965, at the age of 34. Lorraine Hansberry didn't let the racial discrimination and segregation ruins her dreams she is a legend and her legacy lives on because she didn't let her dreams shrivel up like A Raisin in the Sun.