The action of the play takes place in the poor South side of Chicago, sometime after World War II, probably around 1959. Most of the action takes place in the apartment of the Youngers, especially in the living/dining room and near the bathroom that they share with the Johnson family. Some of the action also takes place in the kitchen and in the two small bedrooms. The first bedroom is shared by Mama and her daughter, Beneatha; the second serves as a bedroom for Walter and his wife, Ruth.
The furnishings in the Younger household are typical and tasteful, but worn; it is obvious that they have had to accommodate too many people for too many years. Crocheted doilies and covers are used to hide the worn spots in the fabric, and chairs are placed over worn spots in the carpet. Additionally, the rooms are dark, for there Ruth Younger – Walter Younger’s wife, who is about thirty years old. She was probably a pretty girl, but now she appears disappointed, weary, and tired.
She still, however, possesses a “soft personality,” always trying to please others and being easily embarrassed. At the same time she is emotionally strong; in spite of her economic and marital problems, she never succumbs to despair. Throughout the play she shares a close relationship with Travis Younger – Ruth and Walter’s son, who is the only child presented in the play. Although he longs to be a street kid in his ghetto neighborhood, he is sheltered and overprotected by the Walter Lee Younger (also called Brother) – the husband of Ruth and the younger brother of Beneatha. He comes across as a desperate man, shackled by poverty and prejudice. He is also obsessed with finding a business idea to solve all his social and Beneatha Younger – Walter’s older sister and Lena’s daughter, who dreams of becoming a doctor. A strong-willed woman, she takes herself a little too seriously on occasion. She also takes pride in being an intellectual and a South African. Some of her liberal views, gained in college, clash terribly with the orthodox thoughts Lena Younger (Mama) – the matriarch of the Younger household. She is Walter and Beneatha’s mother and Ruth’s mother-in-law. She is a strong woman with a very clear vision of what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’. She wants Beneatha to become a doctor; she also supports Ruth, her daughter-in-law and loves her grandson to Joseph Asagai – an African student who is very proud of his culture and who professes to love Beneatha. He presents her with African robes and records and supports her ambition to become a doctor. He also wants her to come with him to his homeland in Africa. His name is taken from the word “assegai,” which means a George Murchison – the educated and wealthy boyfriend of Beneatha. An academic show-off, he is contemptuous of other blacks. He is also pompous in his behavior with Beneatha, who The protagonist of the play is Walter Younger, a young, impoverished black man. He is the husband of Ruth and the son of Lena. Totally dissatisfied with his position in life, he longs to lead his family out of its poverty to live in a nice neighborhood outside the ghettos of South Chicago. To make his dreams come true, he immaturely and foolishly invests the insurance money from his father’s death to open a liquor store. He also considers giving in to the threats of Mr. Lindner and not moving in to the white Walter’s main problem, or antagonist, is himself. Dreaming of a better life, he follows a foolish get-rich scheme, investing the family insurance money in a business venture against his mother’s wishes. Additionally, he also considers giving in to the pressure applied by the whites who do not want Walter and his family to The play reaches its climax when the Youngers learn that Willy has run off with all of the insurance money. This action causes Walter to grow up. He is forced to see the error of his ways, to face reality instead of living in a dream world, and to make some The play is a tragic comedy. Although the insurance money is stolen by Willy, Walter is forced to grow up and become a realist. He stands up to Mr. Lindner and continues with the plan to move the family into the white neighborhood. He may have to struggle a lot to pay for the house, but he is brave in his effort to overcome his fears and try. At last, he is acting like his proud father, Big Walter. Additionally, Lena’s dream of living in her own home comes true for her, and Ruth is proud of her husband’s courage. A Raisin in the Sun is a play about a poor black family’s struggle for survival. As the curtain rises, Mama, the sixty-year old mother of the family, is waiting for a $10,000 life insurance check, for her husband has passed away. Much of the action of the play revolves around how this $10,000 is spent. Beneatha, the daughter of the family, would like to spend some of the money on her education, for she longs to be a doctor. Walter, the son of the family, wants to invest all of the money in a liquor store. Being a staunch Christian, After the check arrives, Mama uses part of the money as a down payment on a house in a white neighborhood called Clybourne Park. Walter is very angry at her decision and causes Mama deep anguish. To make things better between herself and her son, she entrusts Walter with the rest of the money, asking him to put part of it in the bank for Beneatha’s education. The immature Walter ignores his mother’s wishes and immediately invests all of the remaining money in a liquor store. He is certain that he and his two partners will quadruple their initial investment. A white representative from Clybourne Park comes to meet the Youngers and to warn them against moving into the white neighborhood. The Youngers are angry at his hidden threat and turn him out of the house. Then Bobo, one of Walter’s business partners comes to inform Walter that the third investor in the liquor store, Willy, has run off with all of Walter’s insurance money. The news is a deep blow to the family and tests the strength of each member. At first Walter thinks that they should not continue with their plans to move. He is at the point of selling the house to Mr. Lindner; at the last minute, he changes his mind. In spite of the financial reverses and the racial discrimination that they might have to face, the Youngers continue their plan of moving into the Apart from the above-mentioned main plot, there are subplots, which include Beneatha’s love affairs and Ruth’s pregnancy. Beneatha is dating two men; George Murchison is richer and kinder than Joseph Asagai, whom Beneatha prefers. Toward the end of the play, Asagai finally asks Beneatha to marry him and go with him to Africa. Ruth gets pregnant and wants to have an abortion since she feels that her marriage is troubled. Mama, however, is totally against the idea. Although it is not stated in the play, it appears that Ruth decides against the abortion, for her marriage seems to have improved. Her fights with Walter subside after he decides to keep the new house. She is happy about moving Despite all the difficulties and complications in the play, at the end the audience sees the Youngers leaving their old house. Mama is carefully carrying her potted plant, as if to make sure that they put down roots in the new place. She realizes that the move into a white neighborhood is a bold decision on the part of the family. One major theme of the play is the importance of dreams; each member of the Younger family is driven by them. Mama longs to have her own home in a nice part of town, away from South Chicago; she does not want her grandchildren to grow up in a place where there are rats. Beneatha dreams of getting a good education, becoming a doctor, and marrying a nice man. Walter wants to have a successful business so that he can rise above the poverty he has Closely related to the dream theme is the theme of pride. Even though the Youngers are a poor black family, they are all proud of their values and morals. They often speak of the pride of Big Walter, Lena’s former husband. She too is proud enough to want to live in a nice house in a white neighborhood. Even when her family is threatened by prejudiced whites from the neighborhood, she is too proud to back down from her decision. Beneatha is also proud. She works hard at school and believes that she can become a doctor. Walter too believes in himself. He is sure he can be successful in business. When his partner steals all of his money, he almost gives in to despair. In the end, he regains his pride and decides that the family should go forth with the plans to move into Minor, but important, themes of the play are the cruelty of discrimination and the strength of family ties. The Youngers, simply because they are black, are not wanted as neighbors in a white community. But because of the closeness of the family, they stick together, even in difficult times, to make their dreams come true. They prove that family ties are more important than money. The prevailing mood of the play is serious with a few touches of humor. The play is thought provoking as it depicts a poor black family struggling to have a place of its own. Along the way, they meet with many troubles, including the loss of the insurance money and the prejudice of the white community. Because of the family’s determination, especially that of Mama, the Youngers are seen leaving their old apartment in South Chicago to move into The first scene of the play is set in a cramped apartment in South Chicago, where the Younger family resides. It is early morning, and the house is slowly awakening to another day. The first family members to be seen are Walter Younger, and his wife, Ruth, who appears to be weary and unwell; as soon as they are up, they begin to argue about his preoccupation with plans for a new business venture. They are interrupted by their young son, Travis, who asks After Walter goes into the living room, Beneatha, his sister, enters. Walter argues with her about her ambition to become a doctor. Finally, as Walter is leaving for his work as a chauffeur, Mama enters the room. Ruth asks Mama how she proposes to spend the life insurance money that she has received after the death of her husband; although Mama answers that she does not want to talk about money first thing in the morning, they do have a financial discussion. When Beneatha joins them, the talk turns to her love life, for she has two suitors. During the conversation, Mama slaps Beneatha for talking blasphemously about God, and Beneatha leaves the room. As Mama and Ruth talk about Walter and ACT I, Scene 2: The following morning This is the day when the insurance check is expected to arrive. Mama and Beneatha are busy doing spring cleaning. Travis is eager to go down to play after finishing his chores. Joseph calls Beneatha, and she invites him over. Ruth comes in and sadly tells everyone that she is pregnant and contemplating having an abortion, a thought that upsets Mama; but since Ruth does not look like she feels well, Mama takes her to her room. When there is commotion on the street below, the women look out and see that the kids are chasing rats. Travis is, therefore, called back upstairs. Mama again thinks how she wants to move from the neighborhood. Soon Joseph Asagai arrives, bringing Beneatha African records and robes. When Mama enters the room, she is introduced to Asagai. Travis is sent out to do a small chore. When Travis returns, he is holding the insurance check, which he has found in the mailbox. Walter enters and immediately asks about the arrival of the insurance money. Learning that it has come, he seizes this opportunity to discuss his business plans, but Mama ignores Walter completely. Walter had also previously ignored Ruth’s attempts to tell him about her pregnancy, and it is Mama who now informs him of it and her desire to get an abortion. Walter is surprised to learn that his wife is pregnant and is not worried about the abortion, for he thinks that Ruth would never really have one. Mama insists that he act like a man, like Big Walter, and tell Ruth that she cannot have the abortion. Walter, however, is only concerned about the insurance check. Mama is taken aback to learn that his desire for money overshadows his concern for Ruth and the new baby. In frustration, Walter leaves ACT II, Scene 1: Later, the same day Later on the same day, Beneatha dances to African music in her new Nigerian robes and headdress as Ruth stands ironing nearby. When a drunken Walter enters the room, he joins in Beneatha’s ritualistic African dance. As they move, they both seem to “look The dance is interrupted by the arrival of George Murchison, who has come to take Beneatha to the theater. Seeing her in native dress, he argues with Beneatha about the importance of African history and heritage to the black people in America; it is obvious that he holds Africans in contempt. When Beneatha leaves the room, he angers Walter by dismissing his efforts to discuss “big” business plans with him. When Beneatha returns, she has changed After Murchison and Beneatha depart, Walter and Ruth remember their early days together and wonder how things have become so stale and difficult between them. Mama returns home unexpectedly, just as Walter and Ruth are kissing. She tells them that she has just paid a hefty down payment on a new house in an all-white neighborhood. Ruth is delighted at the news, for she is eager to move out of their present cramped, dingy apartment. Walter, however, is crushed by Mama’s news; he has wanted to use all of the insurance money on his business venture. He seems bitter about the fact that Mama has apparently butchered his dreams. ACT II, Scene 2: Friday night, a few weeks later When this scene opens, there are packing crates all over the house. Beneatha and Murchison have just returned from a date. When she rebuffs his attempts to kiss her, he departs. Mama asks her daughter whether she had a nice time. Beneatha says that she thinks George is stupid. Mama tells her that she need not waste time with fools. Beneatha is glad that she is understanding. Mrs. Johnson, a neighbor, enters. She has come over to warn the Youngers of the dangers involved in moving into a white neighborhood. Her concern for their welfare does not seem very genuine; instead, she comes across as an interfering busybody, who gets into a small argument with Mama. After Mrs. Johnson leaves, Walter’s employer calls to ask why he has not come to work for three days. Mama quizzes Walter about where he has been. He tells her that he has been driving around in Willy’s car most of the time. He looks incredibly sad and disillusioned with Mama feels guilty about Walter’s misery and decides to give him the remaining insurance money. She hands him sixty-five hundred dollars and asks him to put three thousand dollars of the money in a savings account for Beneatha’s medical school. He can spend the rest of the money as he chooses, but she tells him to behave as if he were the head of the family. Walter is elated. When Travis enters, he tells his son all about his far-fetched dreams of making a lot of money from the liquor store. He obviously has not listened to Mama’s warning about liquor being unchristian. ACT II, Scene 3: Moving day, one week later It is Saturday, a week later and the day that the Youngers are to move out of their old house. Beneatha and Ruth are in good spirits about leaving the “rat hole.” Ruth is also pleased that Walter is a changed man with a positive outlook on life. He even took her out to a movie the previous night. When Walter enters the room, it is obvious that he is also in a great mood, for he playfully dances with his wife. Their levity is interrupted by the appearance of a white man, who comes to the door asking for Lena Younger. Walter tells the stranger that he handles his mother’s business The visitor is Karl Lindner, a representative of the Clybourne Park Improvement Association. In order to keep the Youngers from moving into their neighborhood, he makes a very generous offer on the behalf of his entire association; they want to buy the Youngers’ new home at a very handsome price. Although Walter hears the man out, he then demands that he leave. When Mama returns, they all try to hide the news of Lindner’s offer from her. Instead, they sarcastically say that the whites in Clybourne Park just cannot wait to meet the Youngers. All of the family has purchased housewarming gifts for Mama, even little Travis. They give them to her with excitement before they stop to finish packing. Their celebration is again interrupted by the doorbell. This time it is Bobo, one of Walter’s business partners. He tells Walter the bad news that Willy has disappeared with all of Walter’s insurance money. The entire family is shocked by the news, especially Walter, who is suddenly a broken man. Mama is so angry that she starts to beat Walter on the face. She then prays to God for strength, closing the eventful scene. This scene opens an hour later. There is a heavy gloom in the Younger household. Walter is in his room, stretched out on his bed and staring morosely up at the ceiling. Beneatha is sitting mournfully at the table. Mama has suggested that they abandon their plans for moving and stay in the apartment. Ruth, totally upset by the entire situation, insists they most leave this horrible When the doorbell rings, Beneatha gets up to answer it. It is Asagai, who has come to help with the packing. Beneatha blurts out that her brother gave away the insurance money, including her money for medical school. It is obvious that her previous positive idealism has been replaced by a loss of faith. She is expecting Asagai to give her sympathy; instead, he reprimands her for her materialistic outlook. His criticism leads to a heated argument. After Beneatha hears him out, Asagai proposes to her, asking her to marry and move to Nigeria with him. Walter enters the room and starts searching frantically for Lindner’s phone number while ignoring Beneatha’s insults. He then leaves the house for a short while. When he returns, he tells the family that he has made a call to Lindner, for he plans to sell the new house to the association at the nice price that they had offered. Beneatha and Ruth are repulsed by the idea. Mama also thinks that it is terrible to accept a bribe to stay out of a white neighborhood. Mama proves that her main concern is keeping the family together. When Beneatha states that she disowns Walter, Mama reprimands her for her disloyalty to her own brother. Mr. Lindner arrives, which obviously upsets Mama. She sarcastically tells Travis to watch the spectacle of his father giving in to a white man. As Walter begins to speak to Lindner, he at first sounds confused; then suddenly he begins to speak emotionally about the pride of black people. It becomes clear that Walter has made the decision not to sell the new house. Lindner tries to appeal to Mama, but she also refuses, feeling a great pride in her son’s bold decision. Lindner has no choice but to leave. Ruth is ecstatic about the situation. She eagerly watches as the moving men start to move out the furniture. Amongst the excitement, Beneatha tells her mother that Asagai has asked her to marry him; they both seem genuinely pleased. Walter and Beneatha then argue playfully and leave the room. Mama and Ruth are left together; they have a quiet conversation in which Mama tells Ruth that she thinks Walter has finally come into his manhood. Ruth, for the first time, seems proud of her husband. When Ruth walks out of the room, Mama stands alone silently for some time before departing. She is then seen coming back into the house to grab her potted plant. She then walks out of the house for Walter is the young black protagonist of the play. He is the only son of Lena Younger, the husband of Ruth, the father of Travis, and the sister of Beneatha. Having lived his whole life in the ghetto of South Chicago, he longs to escape the poverty and have a nice home in a safe, clean neighborhood. He also dreams of having his son attend the best schools and buying his wife expensive jewelry. Unfortunately, Walter is not realistic about making his dreams come true. He believes that he and two friends, Bobo and Willy, can get rich quick by opening a liquor store. He is sure that if Mama gives him the money from the insurance check, he can quadruple the investment. Walter is consumed with the belief that Walter is so obsessed with his plan to make money that he ignores his wife, Ruth. They constantly fight and never really communicate; at one point in the play, he even indicates that he no longer cares about her. When she tries to tell him that she is pregnant again, he does not even listen. She is so distressed over the problems in their marriage that she considers having an abortion rather than bring a new baby to live in their impoverished midst. At one time, Ruth and Walter must have had passion between them; but the hard times have extinguished the flame. The Younger family has always been a peaceful one with strong family ties; therefore, the fighting between Ruth and Walter is very uncomfortable for everyone. Walter makes things worse when he becomes upset with his mother. When the insurance check comes in and Walter’s mother will not give him any of the money, he becomes hostile and bitter. When he learns that she has spent a large portion of the money on a down payment on a house, he is crushed. He is sure that he will never be able to make his dreams come true and tells Mama that she has stolen his future. Mama cannot stand to see one of her children in misery. As a result, she makes a foolish decision. Even though Mama is opposed to Walter’s investing in a liquor store because of her Christian principles, she gives him more than half of the insurance money in order to appease him. Walter foolishly and immaturely gives the sixty-five hundred dollars to his partner, Willy, who quickly steals it and flees. When Walter finds out the truth, he is a devastated and desperate man. He decides that he must sell the new house to Mr. Lindner at a handsome price, even though everyone else in the family is counting on moving there. At the end of the play, Walter finally matures, coming into his manhood. When Lindner is insulting and patronizing, he becomes proud of his family and his heritage; in the process, he decides he will not sell the white man the new house at any price. It is ironic that he finds his manhood by refusing to take money when throughout the play his whole focus has been on grabbing money. The entire family is delighted to see him stand up like a man, much The tightly structured plot of the play is developed in a very traditional manner. In the first scene, the major characters are introduced, the setting and theme are established, and the conflict is presented. All of the Youngers eagerly await the arrival of the $10,000 life insurance check. Walter, in particular, dreams about the money, believing that he will be able to use it to invest in a The rising action really begins with the arrival of the check. Everyone seems to have plans for the money. Walter is sure that Mama will give him the money for his business venture; Beneatha is certain that the money will be used for her education. Only Ruth, the daughter-in-law, is wise enough to realize that it is Mama’s money and she can spend it however she wants and should spend it When Mama uses a large portion of the money on a down payment on a house in Clybourne Park, an all-white neighborhood, everyone in the family has a different reaction. Ruth is overjoyed, for she has dreamed of moving out of the cramped, dingy apartment. Beneatha wonders if she will be deprived of her education. Walter is infuriated and blames Mama for stealing his Mama, not wanting to see her children unhappy, gives Walter sixty five hundred dollars, the balance of the insurance payment. She tells him to put three thousand of it in a savings account for Beneatha’s schooling and advises him not to spend his portion on the liquor store, an un-christian venture. Walter ignores the warnings of his wise mother and gives all of the money, including Beneatha’s share, to Willy, one of his business partners, who quickly steals the cash and flees town. When the family learns about the theft, it is the climax of the play. Walter, of course, is most upset of all, for his dream has been destroyed and his family is very angry about his irresponsibility. The rest of the play centers on how Walter handles the loss. In order to recoup some of the money, he decides he will sell the new house to the Clybourne Park Association for a handsome profit, destroying the hopes of Mama and Ruth in the process. In the end, he stands up to Mr. Lindner and refuses to sell. His decision proves he has regained his pride and come into his manhood. As a result, the play ends as a tragic comedy. Although the money is lost, the Many things help to unify the plot. There is a cast of very few characters, with one of the Youngers appearing in every scene; Walter, the protagonist, is the main character and focal point throughout. The play also has a unity of time and place. Only a few days pass in the drama, and almost all the action takes place in the small, dingy apartment of the Youngers, located in the ghetto of South Chicago. The play is further unified by the themes of having dreams, discrimination, and pride, which are developed throughout. Another unifying factor is the use of the symbolic potted plant, which stands for the struggling Younger family and appears several times in the play, including the touching closing The appeal of the play stems from its hopeful and realistic portrayal of a black family during the 1950s. The message is that a family such as the Youngers, who suffer from poverty and discrimination, can survive, even thrive, in spite of overwhelming obstacles. Hansberry never strays from this central theme throughout the entire three acts of the play. Finally, the six scenes moves forward in a linear, chronological fashion, with one scene logically following the next. In addition, there is no confusion between the past and the present; the few flashbacks that do occur are very clear and obvious and basically relate to Big Walter, the deceased husband and father. The entire play is really a movement away from the darkness, represented by the ghetto, to the light, represented by the new neighborhood. Thus, the play is appropriately titled A Raisin in the Sun. Because they have dreams, the Youngers rebel against the position that society has forced them into. Walter Younger is the most rebellious. He resents his impoverished life and fears that his future will be “a big looming blank space – full of nothing. . .But it don’t have to be.” A subservient chauffeur, he dreams of accumulating wealth and living as his employer, Mr. Arnold, does. He sees the opening of a liquor store as a way to get rich quick and convinces Mama to give him some of the insurance money for his business venture. He dreams of the day when he will make enough from his business to move the family out of the black Chicago ghetto in which they have always lived. Where Walter is mostly a dreamer, Mama is a dreamer and a doer. Like Walter, she longs to leave the ghetto behind. When she receives the insurance check, she decides that she will use a portion of it to make a down payment on a home. She is brave enough to select one in an all-white neighborhood, even though she knows that the neighbors will not be pleased and will discriminate against them. She, however, wants her grandchildren to have a safe place to play and the opportuniBibliography:
Cite this Raisin In The Sun Play by Lorraine Hansberry
Raisin In The Sun Play by Lorraine Hansberry. (2019, Jan 18). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/raisin-in-the-sun-4/