2Lorraine HansberryLorraine Hansberry was born in the Woodlawn neighborhood.The family then moved into an all-white neighborhood, where they faced racial discrimination.
3Lorraine HansberryHansberry attended a predominantly white public school while her parents fought against segregation.This experience later inspired her to write her most famous work, A Raisin in the Sun.Attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked on the staff of Freedom magazine.Died of pancreatic cancer
4Social BackgroundPublished in 1959, four years after Rosa Parks’ was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white person on a bus, sparking the Civil Rights Movement, Hansberry’s play illustrates black America’s struggle to gain equal access to opportunity and expression of cultural identity.
5Sentiments in A Raisin… will be echoed by MLK in later speeches, marches, and rallies Martin Luther King, Jr. Civil-Rights LeaderI have a dream… a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’
7Background – The Play Debuted on Broadway in 1959. First play written by a black woman to be produced on BroadwayStory is based upon a family's own experiences growing up in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood.The title comes from the opening lines of "Harlem", a poem by Langston Hughes
8A Raisin in the Sun: Introduction The Youngers are not one big happy family.
9A Raisin in the Sun: Introduction Mrs. Lena Younger (Mama)—Matriarch of the family. She has strong values and ideas about how to run her family; these sometimes conflict with those of her grown children.Mama does not understand how her children turned out the way they did.
10A Raisin in the Sun: Introduction Walter Lee (Brother)— Mrs. Younger’s eldest child. He wants to start his own liquor business, against his family’s wishes. Walter wants things that no one else believes he can have.Beneatha—Walter Lee’s younger sister. She plans to go to medical school after college and has ideals many people find difficult to understand.
11A Raisin in the Sun: Introduction Ruth Younger Walter Lee’s wife, who wants a tranquil home, but who experiences difficulty in communicating with her husband. Pregnant, she is considering having an abortion.Travis Younger—Walter and Ruth’s son. Both his parents want him to aim for a life with more advantages than they have been able to provide.
12CharactersJoseph Asagai—One of Beneatha’s gentleman friends; a fellow student at her school who is originally from Africa. In the midst of crisis, he shows Beneatha an unexpected side of his personality.George Murchison—Another friend of Beneatha’s. Because he is rich, the family urges Beneatha to marry him, but she is not so sure this is what she wants.Karl Lindner—A white man representing a new-neighbor committee, who wants to make a humiliating “deal” with the Younger family.
13Other CharactersBobo—One of the men Walter wants to start a liquor business with; he delivers some shocking news to the family.Mrs. Johnson—Nosy neighbor of the Youngers, who cannot help hinting that there might be dire consequences if the family moves to the new neighborhood.Walter Younger Senior—Deceased husband of Mrs. Younger. How the money from his insurance policy will be used is a source of conflict for the Younger family.
14A Raisin in the Sun: Introduction Their apartment is too old and small, and they never seem to have enough money.
15A Raisin in the Sun: Introduction But one day the Youngers get a check for ten thousand dollars in the mail.
16A Raisin in the Sun: Introduction Not surprisingly, they all have different ideas on what they should do with the money.Will the decision they make save the family or destroy it?
17A Raisin in the Sun: Background The Youngers live on the South Side of Chicago in the 1950s.
18A Raisin in the Sun: Background In the 1950s, African Americans faced a lot discrimination.Racially motivated lynchings, bombings, and fires were not uncommon.
19A Raisin in the Sun: Background In 1949, New Jersey and Connecticut became the first states to outlaw segregation of public places.In 1954, the Supreme Court found in favor of the plaintiffs in the Brown v. The Board of Education case. However, the segregation of schools didn’t begin to take effect until Moreover, the case’s decision did not abolish segregation in other public areas, such as restaurants and restrooms.But that did not mean that states and cities enforced desegregation rulings.
21A Raisin in the Sun: Background African Americans faced discrimination in housing: White people living in certain neighborhoods all agreed not to sell their homes to African Americans.
22A Raisin in the Sun: Background Because of segregation and discrimination, African Americans often had to work in low-paying jobs.For example, in the play, Walter is a chauffeur and Ruth cleans houses.
23A Raisin in the Sun: Background The 1950s was also a time when African Americans began to come together to fight for their civil rights.
24A Raisin in the Sun: Background African Americans were also beginning to find ways to celebrate their unique identity and their African heritage.
25A Raisin in the Sun: Discussion Starters What would happen if you got ten thousand in the mail? What would you want to do with it?What do you think your family would want to do with it?Do you think you would all agree? Why or why not?
26A Raisin in the Sun: Discussion Starters Have you ever experienced discrimination? How so? How did you react?What do you think you would do if someone tried to tell you that you could not live in his or her neighborhood?