A Raisin in the Sun Lesson Plan

A Raisin in the Sun is the most famous play by acclaimed African-American playwright Lorraine Hansberry. Hansberry was the very first black playwright, and 5th woman, to win Finest Play in the New York Drama Critics Circle Awards. Her work was applauded by stars and black icons of the age, such as James Baldwin and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The play gave theatergoers of the time perhaps the most truthful portrayal of the lives of African Americans that had ever been seen on the American phase. Hansberry also got an Oscar nomination for Best Adjusted Screenplay for the movie variation.

A Raisin in the Sun gave primarily white theater audiences of the time insight into the obstacles and terrible bias black households dealt with even in the allegedly more progressive Northern United States. It continues to be widely produced to this day, not only due to the fact that its story of a family struggling against bigotry is sadly still relevant, but also since of the universality of some of its underlying themes.

The play tells the story of the Youngers, an African-American family living on the South Side of Chicago. The patriarch of the family, Walter Lee Sr. has passed away, and the matriarch, Lena, likewise known as Mother, is about to get his life insurance payout in the kind of a check for $10,000. Each member of the Younger family has a different dream attached to the invoice of the money. Mom plans to, and ultimately does, buy a house with it. Her daughter-in-law, Ruth, totally supports Mama’s vision for the money because she wishes to offer a better house for her young boy, Travis, who sleeps in the living room of their present home. Walter Lee Jr., Mom’s son and Ruth’s husband, wishes to invest cash into an alcohol shop organisation with his good friend Willy Harris, which he thinks will ultimately lead to his being an effective business person. His sibling Beneatha, a college student, wishes to use some of the money to spend for medical school so she can end up being a doctor. Mother receives the money and proceeds to purchase a home in a mainly white neighborhood, Clybourne Park. She gives the remainder of the cash, half of which she’s allocated for Beneatha’s schooling, to Walter to deposit in a bank. She tells him he can use the other half to buy an alcohol shop, a concept of which she had previously disapproved. On the day they are expected to move, a white male from the Clybourne Park Neighborhood watch, called Karl Lindner, goes to the Youngers, and informs them that individuals in the neighborhood do not want them to move there because of their race. He provides them more cash than Mother originally paid to buy back your home on behalf of the Neighborhood Association. The family turns him down, however soon receive word that Willy Harris has run off with the money that Walter had actually offered him for the alcohol shop. Walter reveals that he never ever went to the bank, and that Willy took the cash for Beneatha’s tuition as well. The household is devastated. Versus Beneatha and Mama’s objections, Walter decides to take the cash provided by Linder. Nevertheless, when Lindner comes to the house to sign the contracts, but Walter winds up telling him off instead. At the very end the household fixes to move into their brand-new house, and they leave their old apartment for the last time.

A Raisin in the Sun continues to be one of the trademarks of American theater, and is produced often to this day.

Key Elements of A Raisin in the Sun


The play is an American take on the Kitchen Sink drama– a term coined to describe the practical dramas occupying the British stage at the time, like Look Back In Anger by John Osbourne. These plays usually included realistic depictions of lower- and lower-middle-class households in domestic settings, facing unrealized hopes and dreams. They normally concentrated on an “angry young man” who has problem with the impediments of an imperfect society. Walter Jr. is very much in line with the angry-young-man trope, full of frustration and anger with the status quo.

The play is ultimately a severe drama, but includes numerous minutes of ironic humor.


The play happens totally in the Youngers’ home on the South Side of Chicago, a historically black and bad area. The action occurs in the open space that works as the living-room, dining room, and cooking area, where the youngest Younger, Travis, likewise sleeps. Off stage left and phase right, respectively, are Beneatha and Mama’s bed room and Walter and Ruth’s bedroom. Down the hall, also offstage, is the area of the restroom they share with their neighbors, the Johnson family.

The South Side area of the Younger’s home is considerable. The South Side was a segregated ghetto at that time. When Mama receives the payment from her other half’s life insurance, she proceeds to purchase a low-cost home in Clybourne Park, a white, lower-middle-class area nearby. Although the audience never sees the streets of either neighborhood, anecdotes from the characters contrast the relative security and appeal of the 2 neighborhoods.


The play is naturalistic, and thus strives to produce the impression of an unbiased point of view. The four primary characters are arguably equally supportive, so the audience has equal opportunity to experience the story as being from any of their respective viewpoints. Because sense, we see the play through the eyes of the Younger household as an entire, with the supporting characters, like Mrs. Johnson and Karl Lindner, attracted a little broader strokes.

Character development

Ruth: At the start of the play, Ruth and Walter’s marriage is on the rocks. Ruth learns she is pregnant, which tosses her into a state of misery, and she considers an abortion. When Mama offers Walter the cash, his mood enhances substantially, as does his relationship with Ruth. By the end of the play, Ruth, like most of the family, is both excited to move into their brand-new home and wary about the danger that might await them there.

Walter: Walter is depressed by his task as a chauffeur, and imagine a future as an abundant business owner. When Mom tells him she will not offer him money to buy the alcohol store, he feels impotent and mad. After Walter delivers a moving speech about his aggravations with his life, Mother modifications her mind and agrees to give him the cash. Walter is quickly offered a new lease on life, which revitalizes his marriage also. When Willy steals the money, however, Walter hits his lowest point yet. But withstanding Lindner changes Walter and enables him to “come into his manhood,” according to Mama.

Beneatha: In the beginning of the play, Beneatha excitedly prepares for going to medical school and ending up being a doctor. She has two suitors, Joseph Asagai and George Murchison. George is from a rich black family in Chicago, and Beneatha rapidly concerns understand that she does not actually like him. Slowly, she recognizes that she is in love with Asagai. When Walter loses the cash, Beneatha feels disillusioned and tells Asagai she no longer wishes to be a physician since she can not recover the whole world. Asagai slowly convinces her that idealism is important, which she should pursue her dreams– only with him, in Nigeria. It is unclear whether or not Beneatha will in fact choose Asagai, but it is clear at the end of the play that she is extremely seriously considering it.

Mother: Mom’s dream is to see her children succeed. At the start of the play, she sets out to buy a home to make a better home for her household. She prioritizes that and Beneatha’s tuition over Walter’s financial investment plan, but quickly realizes that it is very important that Walter make his own decisions. When Walter loses the money, Mama is devastated and angry, however is able to discover hope at the end when the family chooses to deal with misfortune and move into the house in Clybourne Park together.


Dreams: The opening line of the poem from which the title is taken is “What takes place to a dream delayed?” and in numerous methods the play is an attempt to address that concern. Each character in the play has a dream that they are pursuing– a vision of what they desire their life to be. All the characters’ individual ups and downs are directly correlated to how close they feel they are to their dreams.

Household: The play affirms the importance of family. The Youngers should lean on each other to make it through and they do. A turning point in the play is when Mom scolds Beneatha for saying that she does not love her brother– Mom sees this as the supreme sin. Even though the family comes close to breaking apart a number of times, they never ever do, and eventually find the strength to withstand prejudice with each other.

Homes and Houses: The apartment or condo that the Youngers reside in until the very end of the play represents the household’s struggles to attain success despite their impoverished situations. The phase directions explain an extremely tidy home, with signs of wear showing through attempts to include polish. Your house in Clybourne Park not just represents a brand-new place to live for the Younger household, however likewise a new way of life and socio-economic class.


Mama’s houseplant: Mother thoroughly tends to her houseplant in spite of its scraggly, unhealthy appearance due to an absence of sunshine in their dusky apartment. This parallels the way in which Mom has nurtured the dreams of her children from a young age, in spite of their impoverished situations. Mother takes the houseplant with her to their new house, signifying her commitment to her household, and her connection to the South Side and the house she’s lived in for most of her life.

The home in Clybourne Park: Your home in Clybourne Park represents a comfortable sanctuary away from the squalor of the South Side, however it also represents the achievement of a life of effort. After Lindner goes to the family, your house pertains to represent something more complex: the challenges the family is up versus in accomplishing their dreams.

The check: The check for $10,000 is the personification of each character’s aspirations on their own or the household. In the check, Ruth, Mama, Beneatha, and Walter each see their future. Conflict develops when their visions for the future do not align.

Beneatha’s hair: Beneatha’s change of hairstyle represents her increasing connection to her African heritage, which culminates in her factor to consider of Asagai’s offer to relocate to Nigeria with him. Beneatha’s increasing gratitude for her African heritage associates to her pride in herself and her background. Eventually, Beneatha’s hairstyle is a statement of self-regard.


At the end of the 2nd act, Bobo, Walter Jr.’s friend and prospective service partner, exposes that their co-investor has taken the money that Walter gave him to open a liquor shop. Without Mom’s knowledge, Walter has actually invested the entirety of the cash that Mother offered him, ignoring to reserve cash for his sister’s education or mortgage payments on their recently bought house. Walter has actually pinned all of his hopes for a much better life for his household on the liquor shop plan, so it is especially ravaging when it is stolen out from under him less than a month after Mother provides him control of the money.


The play follows a conventional three-act structure, with all the occasions occurring within a number of weeks in the home of the Younger household.

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