Presentation on theme: "A Raisin in the Sun Background Notes. The Author- Lorraine Hansberry Lorraine Vivian Hansberry was born May 19, 1930 in Chicago and raised in a middle-class."— Presentation transcript:
A Raisin in the Sun Background Notes
The Author- Lorraine Hansberry Lorraine Vivian Hansberry was born May 19, 1930 in Chicago and raised in a middle-class family. When she was 7 or 8 her family moved to a restricted white neighborhood which was against the law at that time. The Hansberrys had to go to court in order to remain in their home which was vandalized on several occasions. Lorraine Hansberry attended the University of Wisconsin, studied at Roosevelt University, attended the New School for Social Research, and studied African Culture and History with W.E.B. DuBois at the Jefferson School for Social Sciences in New York.
Hansberry Continued The production of her play, A Raisin in the Sun catapulted Hansberry into the forefront of the theatre world. She was named most promising playwright of the season by Variety's poll of New York Drama Critics. Upon receiving that year's Drama Desk Award, Lorraine Hansberry became the youngest person and the first African- American to win that distinguished honor. On January 12, 1965, Lorraine Hansberry died at 34 of cancer, cutting short a glorious career and leaving behind several unfinished works.
The History: South Side Chicago in the ‘40s and ‘50s From 1916 until 1948, racially restrictive covenants (or contracts) were used to keep Chicago's neighborhoods white. In language suggested by the Chicago Real Estate Board, legally binding covenants attached to parcels of land varying in size from city block to large subdivision prohibited African Americans from using, occupying, buying, leasing, or receiving property in those areas.
The History Continued In 1947 covenants covered large parts of the city and, in combination with zones of nonresidential use, almost wholly surrounded the African American residential districts of the period, cutting off corridors of extension. Many of the neighborhoods encumbered with racially restrictive covenants were subsequently settled by African Americans once the covenants had been declared unconstitutional.
The American Dream The American Dream is one in which freedom includes a promise of the possibility of prosperity and success. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement" regardless of social class or circumstances of birth. The idea of the American Dream is rooted in the United States Declaration of Independence which proclaims that "all men are created equal" and that they are "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights" including "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
The Story of A Raisin in the Sun In this play, Hansberry vividly portrays the stress of poverty. On stage, she creates a real world where five humans are squeezed into a one-bedroom apartment, where a young boy must scramble for a measly fifty cents, and where a man must die for the family to have any hope for the future. A Raisin in the Sun portrays a few weeks in the life of the Youngers, an African-American family living on the South Side of Chicago in the 1950s. When the play opens, the Youngers are about to receive an insurance check for $10,000. This money comes from the deceased Mr. Younger’s life insurance policy. Each of the adult members of the family has an idea as to what he or she would like to do with this money. The matriarch of the family, Mama, wants to buy a house to fulfill a dream she shared with her husband. Mama’s son, Walter Lee, would rather use the money to invest in a liquor store with his friends. He believes that the investment will solve the family’s financial problems forever. Walter’s wife, Ruth, agrees with Mama, however, and hopes that she and Walter can provide more space and opportunity for their son, Travis. Finally, Beneatha, Walter’s sister and Mama’s daughter, wants to use the money for her medical school tuition.
Meet the Family Walter Lee Younger: The protagonist. Walter is a dreamer. He wants to be rich and devises plans to acquire wealth with his friends. When the play opens, he wants to invest his father’s insurance money in a new liquor store venture. He spends the rest of the play endlessly preoccupied with discovering a quick solution to his family’s various problems. Ruth Younger: Walter’s wife and Travis’s mother. Ruth manages the Youngers’ small apartment. Her marriage to Walter has problems, but she hopes to rekindle their love. She is about thirty, but her weariness makes her seem older. Constantly fighting domestic troubles, she continues to be an emotionally strong woman. Her almost pessimistic pragmatism helps her to survive.
Meet the Family Lena Younger (“Mama”): Walter and Beneatha’s mother. Mama is 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. Beneatha Younger (“Bennie”): Mama’s daughter and Walter’s sister. Beneatha is twenty years old, attends college, and is better educated than the rest of the Younger family. Some of her personal beliefs and views have distanced her from conservative Mama. She dreams of being a doctor and struggles to determine her identity as a well- educated black woman. Travis Younger: Walter and Ruth’s 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.