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A Raisin in the Sun


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A: Lorraine Hansberry Pf: 1959, New York Pb: 1959 G: Drama in 3 acts S: Youngers' living room, Chicago, late 1940s–50s C: 7m, 3f, 1 child (m)Lena Younger (‘Mama’) lives in cramped conditions in a poor area of Chicago with her family: her daughter Beneatha, a would-be medical student; her son Walter Lee, a chauffeur with aspirations to making his fortune; and his wife Ruth and son Travis. Mama is determined to use the $10,000 life insurance from her late husband as down payment on a house in a good neighbourhood. Walter, however, would like to invest money in a liquor store. Mama rejects what she sees as his gambling with the money. She is also worried about Beneatha, who shows no interest in a rich suitor, preferring to go out with a visiting Nigerian student. When Ruth discovers that she is pregnant, there is even greater pressure to move out of their ‘rat-trap’. Mama puts a deposit on a house in a white neighbourhood, but reveals to the disconsolate Walter that she has kept back enough money for him to buy his liquor store. Lindner, a potential neighbour of the Youngers, calls to tell them that they are not wanted in a white area and offers a financial incentive to sell back their new house. Walter tells him to get out. When Walter learns that his business partner has absconded with his money, and the family face financial ruin again, he decides to accept Lindner's offer. When Lindner comes, however, Walter realizes that he could never look his son in the eyes again and sends Linder away once more. The moving men begin packing for the new home.

A: Lorraine Hansberry Pf: 1959, New York Pb: 1959 G: Drama in 3 acts S: Youngers' living room, Chicago, late 1940s–50s C: 7m, 3f, 1 child (m)

The title derives from a Langston Hughes poem: ‘What happens to a dream deferred? |Does it dry up| Like a raisin in the sun?’ In this, the first play on Broadway by a black woman writer, the Younger family refuse to defer their dream, despite financial problems (similar to the failure of the inheritance in O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock), and despite threats from the white community. By growing into proud defiance, Walter ‘finally come into his manhood today’.

Subjects: Literature — Theatre.


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Authors

Lorraine Hansberry (1930—1965)


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