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A Raisin in the sun. Lorraine Hansberry. characters. Walter Lee Younger: passionate, ambitious, a dreamer Feels shackled by poverty and prejudice Obsessed with buying the liquor store Achievement of his dreams will improve his social standing

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a raisin in the sun

A Raisin in the sun

Lorraine Hansberry

  • Walter Lee Younger:
    • passionate, ambitious, a dreamer
    • Feels shackled by poverty and prejudice
    • Obsessed with buying the liquor store
    • Achievement of his dreams will improve his social standing
    • Wants to provide all the material needs of his wife and his family
  • Walter Lee Younger
    • A modern day Prometheus (shackled for thousands of years/eagle tore out his liver each night, which grew back the next day/eventually released by Hercules)
    • Walter is being devoured by his circumstance; the liquor store restores his dream
    • Sees it as the only way out of his economic distress
    • Chauvinistic
    • Shamed when he loses the remaining money
    • Is eventually willing to “sell out” his race by accepting Lindner’s money
  • Mama (Lena) Younger
    • Traditional matriarch of the family
    • Proud and carries herself with dignity
    • Has suffered hardships, so she lives entirely for her children
    • Wants to have something better for them
    • Strong motivational force for the family
    • Her dreams will never be influenced by people like Carl Lindner
  • Ruth Younger
    • Very passive
    • Seems to “go along” with what the rest of the family feels is important
    • Extremely caring mother
    • Close relationship with Lena
    • Considers an abortion because of the extra burden she would bring on the family
  • Beneatha Younger
    • Educated
    • More concerned with her own views and has no problem using the family money to have expensive hobbies
    • Strength is her independent attitude, her unwillingness to accept the traditional role of the woman
    • Dismisses her relationship with George because he is the embodiment of what she dislikes in
    • Begins to develop a relationshp with Joseph Asagai, who draws her back to the roots of her race
  • Joseph Asagai
    • Intelligent and charming man who courts Beneatha
    • Has a calm way of disagreeing with her
    • An idealist about his country
    • Questions satisfaction in obtaining money through misfortune
  • George Murchison
    • Wealthy and somewhat snobbish
    • Pompous and a show-off
  • Carl Lindner
    • Arrives to buy off the Youngers so they don’t move to Clybourne Park
    • Uncomfortable, somewhat shy and timid
    • Realizes the Younger family are decent people
  • Mrs. Johnson
    • Nosy neighbor
    • Is in the play to remind the Youngers of what trials await them for being the first black family in a white neighborhood
  • Bobo
    • Informs Walter of Willy taking off with the money
    • Genuinely loyal to Walter
  • Moving Men: Seem to be impressed with the Younger’s move
  • Willy: his answer to escaping poverty is to take Walter and Bobo’s money
  • Big Walter: though a womanizer, always put his family first, so Lena tolerated him
act 1
Act 1
  • Setting: Chicago’s Southside / Between World War II and present time / Friday morning / 3 room apartment occupied by 4 adults and a young boy
  • Plot: introduction of characters / presents the family’s living conditions (share one bathroom with other apartments, crowded living arrangements) / introduces the conflict
  • Conflicts: family’s struggle with poverty / each family member’s idea with how to spend the life insurance money
act 11
Act 1
  • Conflicts:
    • Elemental / Physical: family’s struggle with poverty and each family member’s idea with how to spend the life insurance money
    • Internal: Walter’s desire to get into the liquor store business / Beneatha’s struggle with her heritage
act 2
Act 2
  • Setting:
    • Saturday, the day the check arrives in Scene 1
    • Friday night, a few weeks later, family packing to move
    • Saturday, moving day, one week later
act 21
Act 2
  • Conflicts:
    • Elemental:
      • Mama’s decision to buy the house in Clybourne Park an all-white section of Chicago
      • her decision not to invest in Walter’s liquor store
      • Her decision to entrust Walter with the remaining money
      • Walter and Ruth’s relationship under strain of a new baby
      • Beneatha and her relationship with George and Asagai
      • Beneatha, Ruth, and Walter struggle with Mr. Lindner
      • Walter against Ruth, Mama, and Beneatha upon finding out that Willy took off with the money
act 22
Act 2
  • Internal
    • Walter’s dream of owning a liquor store against Mama’s decision not to invest
    • Ruth’s decision of either aborting the baby or not
    • Mama’s feeling as though she has crushed Walter’s dream and her decision to have him handle the remainder of the money
act 3
Act 3
  • Setting:
    • Same day, one hour later
  • Elemental
    • Beneatha’s anger and contempt at Walter giving all the remaining money away
    • Younger’s move to an all-white neighborhood
  • Internal
    • Beneatha having to decide whether to go to Nigeria with Asagai
    • Walter having to decide whether to take Linder’s money
carl hansberry
Carl Hansberry
  • On November 12, 1940—72 years ago today—the Supreme Court in Hansberry v. Leeinvalidated a racial covenant, ruling in favor of an African American man who bought a house in a formerly whites-only neighborhood.
  • Hansberry v. Lee resulted from a 1937 purchase of property by Carl Hansberry, who was a prominent African American. A white woman, Anna Lee, who was one of many signatories of a restrictive covenant by the property owners’ association not to sell lots to African Americans, sued for $100,000. Lee won her case in circuit court and in the Supreme Court of Illinois, and eventually the case landed in the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • Ultimately, the justices reversed the Supreme Court of Illinois’ decision on the basis of the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process rights, arguing that it was unfair to allow the 54 percent of the neighborhood landowners who had signed the covenant to represent the 46 percent who had not. 
  • July 26
  • Truman signs Executive Order 9981, which states, "It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin."
  • May 17
  • The Supreme Court rules on the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kans., unanimously agreeing that segregation in public schools is unconstitutional. The ruling paves the way for large-scale desegregation. The decision overturns the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling that sanctioned "separate but equal" segregation of the races, ruling that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." It is a victory for NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall, who will later return to the Supreme Court as the nation's first black justice.
  • Aug.
  • Fourteen-year-old Chicagoan Emmett Till is visiting family in Mississippi when he is kidnapped, brutally beaten, shot, and dumped in the Tallahatchie River for allegedly whistling at a white woman. Two white men, J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant, are arrested for the murder and acquitted by an all-white jury. They later boast about committing the murder in a Look magazine interview. The case becomes a cause célèbre of the civil rights movement.
  • Dec. 1
  • (Montgomery, Ala.) NAACP member Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat at the front of the "colored section" of a bus to a white passenger, defying a southern custom of the time. In response to her arrest the Montgomery black community launches a bus boycott, which will last for more than a year, until the buses are desegregated Dec. 21, 1956. As newly elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., is instrumental in leading the boycott.
  • Jan.–Feb.
  • Martin Luther King, Charles K. Steele, and Fred L. Shuttlesworth establish the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, of which King is made the first president. The SCLC becomes a major force in organizing the civil rights movement and bases its principles on nonviolence and civil disobedience. According to King, it is essential that the civil rights movement not sink to the level of the racists and hatemongers who oppose them: "We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline," he urges.
  • Sept.
  • (Little Rock, Ark.) Formerly all-white Central High School learns that integration is easier said than done. Nine black students are blocked from entering the school on the orders of Governor OrvalFaubus. President Eisenhower sends federal troops and the National Guard to intervene on behalf of the students, who become known as the "Little Rock Nine."
  • Feb. 1
  • (Greensboro, N.C.) Four black students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College begin a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth's lunch counter. Although they are refused service, they are allowed to stay at the counter. The event triggers many similar nonviolent protests throughout the South. Six months later the original four protesters are served lunch at the same Woolworth's counter. Student sit-ins would be effective throughout the Deep South in integrating parks, swimming pools, theaters, libraries, and other public facilities.
  • May 4
  • Over the spring and summer, student volunteers begin taking bus trips through the South to test out new laws that prohibit segregation in interstate travel facilities, which includes bus and railway stations. Several of the groups of "freedom riders," as they are called, are attacked by angry mobs along the way. The program, sponsored by The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), involves more than 1,000 volunteers, black and white.
  • Oct. 1
  • James Meredith becomes the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi. Violence and riots surrounding the incident cause President Kennedy to send 5,000 federal troops.
  • April 16
  • Martin Luther King is arrested and jailed during anti-segregation protests in Birmingham, Ala.; he writes his seminal "Letter from Birmingham Jail," arguing that individuals have the moral duty to disobey unjust laws.
  • May
  • During civil rights protests in Birmingham, Ala., Commissioner of Public Safety Eugene "Bull" Connor uses fire hoses and police dogs on black demonstrators. These images of brutality, which are televised and published widely, are instrumental in gaining sympathy for the civil rights movement around the world.
  • June 12
  • (Jackson, Miss.) Mississippi's NAACP field secretary, 37-year-old Medgar Evers, is murdered outside his home. Byron De La Beckwith is tried twice in 1964, both trials resulting in hung juries. Thirty years later he is convicted for murdering Evers.
  • Aug. 28
  • (Washington, D.C.) About 200,000 people join the March on Washington. Congregating at the Lincoln Memorial, participants listen as Martin Luther King delivers his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
  • Sept. 15
  • (Birmingham, Ala.) Four young girls (Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Addie Mae Collins) attending Sunday school are killed when a bomb explodes at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, a popular location for civil rights meetings. Riots erupt in Birmingham, leading to the deaths of two more black youths.
  • Jan. 23
  • The 24th Amendment abolishes the poll tax, which originally had been instituted in 11 southern states after Reconstruction to make it difficult for poor blacks to vote.
  • Summer
  • The Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), a network of civil rights groups that includes CORE and SNCC, launches a massive effort to register black voters during what becomes known as the Freedom Summer. It also sends delegates to the Democratic National Convention to protest—and attempt to unseat—the official all-white Mississippi contingent.
  • July 2
  • President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion, or national origin. The law also provides the federal government with the powers to enforce desegregation.
  • Aug. 4
  • (Neshoba Country, Miss.) The bodies of three civil-rights workers—two white, one black—are found in an earthen dam, six weeks into a federal investigation backed by President Johnson. James E. Chaney, 21; Andrew Goodman, 21; and Michael Schwerner, 24, had been working to register black voters in Mississippi, and, on June 21, had gone to investigate the burning of a black church. They were arrested by the police on speeding charges, incarcerated for several hours, and then released after dark into the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, who murdered them.
  • Man say to his woman: I got me a dream. His woman say: Eat your eggs. Ii
    • Walter attempts to convince Ruth about talking to Lena about the liquor store. Walter has put all of his hopes and dreams into this one plan. He wants a better life for his family. Shows also the entrepreneurial spirit that Walter exemplifies
  • There is simply is no blasted god – there is only man and it is he who makes miracles! Ii
    • Beneatha’s remark that sets off Lena. Her belief is that man makes his own way in the world and that only the individual person can change their situation and destiny.
  • Once upon a time freedom used to be life – now it’s money. . . . No – it was always money, Mama. We just didn’t know about it. Iii
    • Discussion between Lena and Walter concerning freedom being equated with money. Walter’s feeling is that having wealth is what opens the doors of opportunity. Lena’s freedom refers to the freedom from slavery and oppression
  • Here I am a giant – surrounded by ants! Ants who cant even understand what it is the giant is talking about. IIii
    • Part of Walter’s response to George’s comment about him being “all wacked up with bitterness.” Walter is referring to his dream of owning the liquor store and the fact that his mother doesn’t see things his way. The comment also reflects the bitterness he feels toward his family’s situation
  • Sometimes it is hard to let the future begin. IIiii
    • This is the moment before Walter opens the door to let Bobo in. At this exact moment, Walter is excited for the possible future of owning the liquor store. Little does he know that Bobo has come to bring bad news.
  • I wanted to do that. I always thought it was the one concrete thing in the world that a human being could do. Fix up the sick you know – and make them whole again. This was truly being God. . . III
    • Beneatha is disappointed that Walter lost all of her money for education, so she feels as though her dreams have vanished. These lines express the fullness of her dreams of becoming a doctor
  • What you just said – about the circle. It isn’t a circle – it is simply a long line –. . . And it is very odd but those who see the changes are called “idealists” – and those who cannot, or refuse to think, they are the “realists.” III
    • Asagai’s definitions of idealists and realists, and his expression of how important idealists are to the world. His belief is that idealists have the ability to see those changes at the other end of the line.
  • He finally came into his manhood today, didn’t he? III
    • Lena’s comment after Walter tells Lindner that his family doesn’t want trouble and that they are definitely moving. Walter has come to the realize that he needs to take charge and make a stand. None of them knows what waits for them after them move into the new house, but the time has come for Walter to take the lead and fend for his family, and take his father’s place in being the “man that his father was.”