A Raisin in the Sun: An Overview

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Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun is an easy reading that lets you jump into it; with colorful characters and deep story that can relate to anyone who has a dream to achieve more. One thing I loved about this play is that it’s supposed to be set sometime after WWII, however the struggles and issues that are addressed in this play are still very apparent in today’s society. I wouldn’t say Hansberry’s play was before her time, but that her ideas were timeless.

The story revolves around the Youngers’ an African American family, which consists of five people and one on the way. They live in the south side of Chicago in a small two-bedroom apartment, which has a bathroom in the hall that they share with another family. The Youngers are really feeling the pain of poverty and are struck by a “sickness” caused by money, or better yet, lack there of. In the first Act, Beneatha jokes with her Nigerian boyfriend Asagai: “…we’ve all got acute ghetto-it is.” (Act I. Scene 2. 60) Although Beneatha jests about this, the characters most affected by this “sickness” are the people that have to provide the funds to keep the family alive: Mama (Lena), Ruth, and Walter Lee.

Living in poverty can take its toll on a human being; it can kill his spirit if he lets it. Due to the family’s limited financial income, each character has his or her own dream of how they could better their lives. This dream has become more tangible because a check for $10,000 is coming in the mail. The money is being sent from an insurance company because Big Walter, Mama’s husband and the father of Beneatha and Walter Lee, has passed away. The check has been issued to Mama but her children hope to receive some of the endowment. Beneatha is the most educated family member and believes that Mama will aid her in her quest to become a doctor. She is used to Mama supporting her financially in all her endeavors. Beneatha’s dream is the most realistic because she is already in college; taking the steps...
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