Raisin in the Sun Ms. E
Lorraine Hansberry Background Info… • A Raisin in the Sun is the first play by a black woman to be produced on Broadway • Hansberry’s play illustrates black America’s struggle to gain equal access to opportunity and expression of cultural identity.
ACT 1 Summary • We meet a poor African-American family living on the South Side of Chicago. How many people are living in the tiny one-bedroom apartment? • Five people • They are expecting a $10,000 that may help in their current situation. Where is this check coming from? • Life insurance check • They all have different plans for the money: • Lena wants to buy a house, Walter wants to invest in a liquor store, and Beneatha wants it for medical school. Ruth faints at the end of Act 1
Act I Themes: Family Strength • Walter Lee likes to blame his so-called failure in life on both the color of his skin and his unsupportive family. He doesn’t get any credit or support from them. What are some examples of the lack of support? • Sibling beef. What do Walter and Beneath argue about? • How does Mama try to instill family values? $ Money is a point of contention
ACT 1 Summary • Asagai is courting Beneatha and encourages her to get in touch with her “roots”. What does he mean by her “roots”? • Ruth is expecting a child and Walter is more concerned about the insurance check. Bad husband!
Act 1 Themes: Money $$$ • Walter is obsessed with the liquor store idea. He wants to start a new life, despite the large gamble. • Mama thinks that money destroys happiness because people tend to fight over it. According to her, it is not Christian to let money destroy familial bliss and she only plans to keep the money to help her family.
Act I Scene I “Important Quote's” • "Weariness has, in fact, won in this room. Everything has been polished, washed, sat on, used, scrubbed too often. All pretenses but living itself have long since vanished from the very atmosphere of this room" Act 1, Scene 1, pg. 3 • "Yeah. You see, this little liquor store we got in mind cost seventy-five thousand and we figured the initial investment on the place be 'bout thirty thousand, see. That be ten thousand each... Baby, don't nothing happen for you in this world 'less you pay somebody off!" Act 1, Scene 1, pg. 14-15 • "We one group of men tied to a race of women with small minds." Act 1, Scene 1, pg. 17 • "In my mother's house there is still God." Act 1, Scene 1, pg. 37
Act I Scene II “Important Quote's” • "Assimilationism is so popular in your country." Act 1, Scene 2, pg. 48 • "When a man goes outside his home to look for peace." Act 1, Scene 2, pg. 60 • "Something has changed. You something new, boy. In my time we was worried about not being lynched and getting to the North if we could and how to stay alive and still have a pinch of dignity too...Now here come you and Beneatha - talking 'bout things we ain't never even thought about hardly, me and your daddy. You ain't satisfied or proud of nothing we done. I mean that you had a home; that we kept you out of trouble till you was grown; that you don't have to ride to work on the back of nobody's streetcar - You my children - but how different we done become." Act 1, Scene 2, pg. 62
ACT 2 Summary • Beneatha is preparing for a date with who? • George (how is he different from Asagai?) • Walter is frustrated that Mama has put a down payment on a house in a White neighborhood. Everyone else is excited. • Why is Walter skipping work and getting drunk? • He is upset about Mama’s decision. • To appease Walter Mama decides to give Walter some of the money. How much does she give him? • The remaining $6,500. $3000 of which goes into an account for Beneatha’s med school. NowWalter is excited because Mama has entrusted him.
ACT 2 Summary • The family is excited to be moving to their new house and Walter is “juiced” because he has secretly invested all the money into the liquor store idea. • Who is Mr. Lindera.k.a. “the man” and what does he want? • He tries to buy the Younger’s out. Basically stating that they are not wanted in this all White neighborhood and they would be willing to pay the family to stay away. • Everything changes when Bobo comes to the door. What news does he bring? • ALL the money is gone! The family is devastated when they find out that Walter lost all of it, even Beneatha’s portion!
Act 2 Themes: Family Love • Asagai represents the African family as a whole. As a Nigerian, he is different; yet, he is the same. • Mama is appalled that her son would allow his wife to terminate a life. She lectures him and says her family is about love and giving children life - not taking life away. While the Younger family now appears to be increasing, it also seems to be falling apart. • Walter Lee tells Mama that he acts like a child because she takes all the responsibility. She never allows him to be a man or be head of the household. [We know Walter fails when given that responsibility.]
Act II Theme: Money • Each Younger family member is mesmerized by the power of the $10,000. • George vs. Walter: The different economic statuses divide the two men of the same race. Both characters highlight stereotypes. Explain how they can be seen as stereotypes. • Mama finally gives Walter some money symbolizing her trust in him. • Walter lost all the insurance money. This loss causes him to initially become irate & depressed. The familyis angry & disappointed. [How did the$$ represent their father? Mama explains this at the end of ACT II).
Act II Theme: Racism • One of the first major allusions to any sort of racism appears with the character of George Murchison. Prior to his entrance, the play simply discusses a poor family. However, when the wealthy Black man enters the picture, the Younger family see differences. They don’t feel like he is one of them and group him snobbish white people.
Act II Theme: Racism • Mama explains to Walter the how different racism is now versus her her generation. She was worried about her personal survival from lynching and hate crimes. It seems as though her children have lost sight of the benefits of this more progressive society. • The familyis hesitant about moving to an all-white neighborhood. • Karl Lindner overtly (define!) states the racism present in Clybourne Park. While he initially sugar coats his words, he eventually blurts out that theYoungersare not wanted in the neighborhood because of the color of their skin.
Act II Scene I “Important Quote's” • “…with the sociology and the psychology - but they teaching you how to be a man? How to take over and run the world? They teaching you how to run a rubber plantation or a steel mill? Naw - just to talk proper and read books and wear white shoes..." Act 2, Scene 1, pg. 76 • So what you need for me to say it was all right for? So you butchered up a dream of mine - you - who always talking 'bout your children's dreams..." Act 2, Scene 1, pg. 87 • “Here I am a giant surrounded by ants! Ants who can’t even understand what it is the giant is talking about” Act 2 Scene 1, pg 85 • “you glad about the house? It’s going to be yours when you get to be a man” Act 2, Scene 1, pg. 95
Act II Scene II “Important Quote's” • "And from now on any penny that come out of it or that go in it is for you to look after. For you to decide. It ain't much, but it's all I got in the world and I'm putting in your hands. I'm telling you to be head of this family from now on like you supposed to be." Act 2, Scene 2, pg. 94 • people can get awful worked up when they feel that their whole way of life and everything they've ever worked for is threatened...You just can't force people to change their hearts, son." Act 2, Scene 3, pg. 105-6
Act II Scene III “Important Quote's” • I seen him grow thin and old before he was forty...working and working and working like somebody's old horse...killing himself...and you - you give it all away in a day..." Act 2, Scene 3, pg. 117
ACT 3 Summary • Everyone begins to lose faith in each other and the world. Beneatha in particular thinks about giving up her dream of becoming a doctor. She realizes fate is not in her control and anyone can come in and ruin her dream. She has nothing positive to say about her brother. How did Walter ruin her dream? • Asagai tries to encourage Beneatha to keep the faith and asks her to go where with him? • To Nigeria to practice medicine. • Mama also wants to give up. She wonders if they should even continue with this move. Devastation…
ACT 3 Summary • Walter has another bright idea. What is it? • He thinks he can compensate for his mistake by allowing Mr. Linder to buy him out now. • The family believes Walter isn’t living up to his fathers dream and encourage him not to give in. How is Walter falling short of his father’s dream? And why does he change his mind about taking the money from Mr. Linder? • He changes his mind because hisson is watching him. He wants to be a good example and decides to say no to Mr. Linder. The family rejoices.
Act III Theme: Family Unity • Walter sinks to a new low and begs Lindner for money in exchange for his dignity. Here, we see family is needed most when people are down. • Walter shows some character growth (Dynamic, Round) and matures as a man by saying no to Linder. The family becomes closer than ever.
Act III Theme: Money • Walter Lee tells the family that he has called Mr. Lindner back to accept his proposal and take money from him, to restore the money he lost. Outraged, Mama explains to Walter Lee that her family and her race cannot be bought with any amount of money. Pride and honor is more important than the almighty dollar.
Act III Theme: Racism • Lindner represents the racist mentality of those times. People wanted to live separately because they weren’t as accepting of other races. Walter shows strength when he rejects this mentality and emerges a mature man.
Act III “Important Quote's” • "He finally come into his manhood today, didn't he? Kind of like a rainbow after the rain..." Act 3, pg. 141
Themes: Man Pride “Man Pride” Exemplified by Walter Lee • Pride corrupts Walter Lee. He is stubborn and wants things his way. • Walter wants to be the one to take the family out of poverty even if he uses money that wasn’t his. • He gives up his pride when he is willing to take money from Linder. (eventually his fatherly instincts kick in)
Themes: Cultural Pride “Cultural Pride” “Roots” • Beneatha’s connection to her homeland roots has a strong presence in the play. • Walter takes a stand after remembering the struggles his parents went through and finally showspride in his heritage
Themes: Family Pride “Family Pride” Family • The Youngers struggle socially and economically throughout the play but unite in the end to realize the dream of buying a house. • Mama strongly believes in the importance of family, and she tries to teach this value to her family as she struggles to keep them together and functioning. • Walter and Beneatha seem to learn this lesson about family by the end of the play.
Themes: Dreams • A Raisin in the Sun is essentially about dreams, as the main characters struggle to deal with the oppressive circumstances that rule their lives. • Every member of the Younger family has a separate, individual dream. • The Youngers struggle to attain these dreams throughout the play, and much of their happiness and sadness is directly related to their attainment of, or failure to attain, these dreams. • By the end of the play, they learn that the dream of a house is the most important dream because it unites the family.
Themes: Fighting Discrimination • Mr. Lindner is a character that makes the theme of racial discrimination prominent in the plot. It is an issue that the Youngers cannot avoid. • Mr. Lindner and the people he represents can only see theYoungers skin color. • Ultimately, the Youngers respond to this discrimination with defiance and strength.
Themes: Home • The Younger apartment is the only setting throughout the play, emphasizing the centrality of the home. • Mama sees the home as crucial to the family’s unity. • The play ends with the Youngers moving to their new home together and united.
Symbols: Mama’s Plant • The most overt symbol in the play, Mama’s plant represents both Mama’s care and her dream for her family. The plant is in front of a tiny window without much room to grow, but Mama nurtures it to health despite its circumstances. Just like she has done with her family. • The plant also symbolizes her dream to own a house and, more specifically, to have a garden and a yard.
Symbols: Beneatha’s Hair • When the play begins, Beneatha has straightened hair. Midway through the play, after Asagai visits her and questions her hairstyle, she cuts her Caucasian-seeming hair. Her new, radical afro represents her embracing her heritage/roots. CHEMICALLY SRAIGHTNED HAIR NATURAL AFRO
Walter Lee • Walter Lee Younger - The protagonist of the play. He wants to be rich; wants to invest his father’s insurance money in a new liquor store venture. • Is there significance in the family name “Younger”?
Beneatha • Beneatha Younger (“Bennie”) - Beneatha is twenty years old, she attends college, and is better educated than the rest of the Younger family. She dreams of being a doctor and struggles to determine her identity as a well-educated black woman. • Why did the author choose the name “Beneatha” for this character?
Mama aka “Lena” • Lena Younger (“Mama”) - religious, moral, and maternal. She wants to use her husband’s insurance money as a down payment on a house with a backyard to fulfill her dream for her family to move up in the world. • Why did the author choose the name “Lena” for this character.
Ruth • Ruth Younger - Walter’s wife and Travis’s mother. She has a baby on the way. Ruth takes care of the Youngers’ small apartment. She is about thirty, but her weariness makes her seem older. • Is there any significance in this characters name?
Travis • Travis Younger - Walter and Ruth’s sheltered young son. Travis earns some money by carrying grocery bags and likes to play outside with other neighborhood children, but he has no bedroom and sleeps on the living-room sofa. • What is the significance of this character in general?
Asagai • Joseph Asagai - A Nigerian student in love with Beneatha. Asagai, as he is often called, is very proud of his African heritage, and Beneatha hopes to learn about her African heritage from him. • What is the significance of his full name?
George • George Murchison - A wealthy, African-American man who dates Beneatha. The Youngers approve of George, but Beneatha dislikes his willingness to submit to white culture and forget his African heritage. • Why did the author choose to name this character “George”?
Linder • Mr. Karl Lindner - The only white character in the play. He offers the Youngers a deal to reconsider moving into his (all-white) neighborhood. • Why was Mr. Linder often referred to as “the man”?
Answer the following questions with a partner! Be prepared to share-out. • Which characters were DYNAMIC or ROUND? Explain. • Which characters wereSTATIC or FLAT? Explain. • What was the main CONFLICT in the play and why? • What was the most important SYMBOL and why? • What was the most important THEME and why? Any final questions????