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Raisin in the Sun
Transcript of Raisin in the Sun
History and Context
During the 1930's to the late 1950's, segregation between African Americans and white people was still legal and in Northern cities like Chicago, there were no such laws but people still self segregated along racial and economic lines
During the 1950's the USA experienced large economic growth in which there were large growing industrys and plenty oppurtunity in prospering cities
A Raisin in the Sun is considered a turning point in American art because it addressed multiple controversial issues widely seen throughout the 1950's
Brown vs. Board of education was the mark of the beginning of the civil rights movement starting around the 1950's and ending in the late 1960's
The 1950's were noted as a time of compliance, conformity, and rebellion
About The Author
Lorraine Hansberry was born in Chicago, Illinois in the 1930's and was the youngest of four children to Carl and Nannie Hansberry
Hansberry's father was a successful businessman and her mother was a committeewoman
Her family actively fought discrimination and her father ened up succesfully taking a case to the supreme court (Hansberry v. Lee court case)
Moved into a predominantly white neighborhood at the age of eight where she was violently attacked by neighbors
She was the youngest American playwright and fifth woman to receive the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play
Died early at the age of thirty four of due pancreatic cancer
A Raisin in the Sun was highly autobiographical and some of her experiences closely corellate with the play
Main Idea (Social Issues)
Problems with living in Clybourne Park due to racial background
Everybody scorns Beneatha for wanting to become a doctor and be more than the typical woman of the time
The Youngers have assimilated to American life, but Beneatha tries to connect with her African heritage and language.
Ruth Younger contemplates giving up her baby, even though its an unchristian thing to do, in order to help her struggling family
Family is always the most important thing.
As we follow the Youngers, we notice how pained the relationships within their family are yet by the end of the play, they seem to reconnect, strengthen thier bonds, and reevaluate what the important things in life are
Dreams are important
Yes, sometimes you must be reasonable but that never means you can give up completely. Lena’s children are both ambitious and exciting even through all of the roadblocks they meet.
Follow your heart and be who you are, not what someone else wants you to be.
Beneatha knew what she wanted to be and she worked hard to begin being that person regardless of all the voices naysaying.
The plant : Mama’s plant acts as a metaphor for the family in the way that even though it lacks nourishment she still believes in its potential and hopes it will one day flourish
The check: The check is ultimately a symbol of hope for this family that so desperately wants to aspire to be more than the average black man, but it also shows us how blinding dreams can ultimately be
Travis : Travis seems to symbolize the pride and future of the Younger family. His innocence and youth bring out the common sense and good in his family
Beneatha’s hair: When Beneatha cuts her hair she is saying that natural existence is beautiful as well as going back to her roots and reconciling her identity and culture. Beneatha shows her anti-assimilationist beliefs while she desires to channel who she really is as a person
Some Things to Think About... (Motifs!)
I) The Importance and Purpose of Dreams
Act I, scene ii: “Sometimes, it’s like I can see the future stretched out in front of me--just plain as day-- a big looming blank space-- full of nothing… But it don’t have to be.”
Act III: “Then isn’t there something wrong in a house--in a world-- where all dreams, good or bad, must depend on the death of a man?”
II) The Positive and Negative Aspects of Money
Act I, scene ii: “I’m waiting to see you stand up… and say we done give up one baby to poverty and that we ain’t going to give up nary another one.”
Act II, scene iii: “THAT MONEY IS MADE OUT OF MY FATHER’S FLESH--”
Preservation of Family and Heritage
Act I, scene ii: “Once upon a time freedom used to be life--now it’s money… In my time we was worried about getting lynched and getting to the North if we could and how to stay alive and still have a pinch of dignity too… You ain’t satisfied or proud of nothing we done.”
Act II, scene ii: “I--I just seen my family falling apart today… We couldn’t of gone on like we was today. When it gets like that in life--you just got to… push on out and do something bigger.”
Act II, scene i: “‘Cause we all tied up in a race of people that don’t know how to do nothing but moan, pray and have babies!”
Act II, scene III: “What do you think you are going to gain by moving into a neighborhood where you just aren’t wanted…”
Walter Lee Younger = Protaganist of the play and head of household.He is rather head strong and intense but truly he only wants what is best for his family
Ruth Younger= Walter's wife and Travis's mother. Has some maritial problems with Walter. Has the typical role of the 1950's housewife, but she also takes on the role of a working woman.
Beneatha Younger= Walter's sister. She is a stubborn, head strong intellectual that struggles with finding her identity
Lena 'Mama' Younger= Mother to Walter Lee. She is religous, moral, and motherly. Cares deeply about well being for family
Travis Younger= Son of Walter Lee. Travis is a minor character yet has a deep impact on his family and the outcome of the play in general