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A Raisin in the Sun

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"Never before, in the entire history of the American theater, has so much of the truth of black people's lives been seen on the stage," observed James Baldwin shortly before A Raisin in the Sun opened on Broadway in 1959.

Indeed Lorraine Hansberry's award-winning drama about the hopes and aspirations of a struggling, working-class family living on the South Side of Chicago connected profoundly with the psyche of black America--and changed American theater forever.  The play's title comes from a line in Langston Hughes's poem "Harlem," which warns that a dream deferred might "dry up/like a raisin in the sun."

"The events of every passing year add resonance to A Raisin in the Sun," said The New York Times.  "It is as if history is conspiring to make the play a classic."  This Modern Library edition presents the fully restored, uncut version of Hansberry's landmark work with an introduction by Robert Nemiroff.

162 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1959

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About the author

Lorraine Hansberry

53 books456 followers
People know American playwright Lorraine Vivian Hansberry for her play A Raisin in the Sun (1959).

This writer inspired "To Be Young, Gifted and Black," song of Nina Simone.

She, the first such Black woman, wrote a play, performed on Broadway. Her best known work highlights the lives of Blacks under racial segregation in Chicago. Family of the author struggled against segregation, challenging a restrictive covenant and eventually provoking the Supreme Court case Hansberry v. Lee. The title of the play was taken from the poem "Harlem" by Langston Hughes: "What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?"

Hansberry moved to city of New York and afterward worked at the pan-Africanist newspaper Freedom, where she dealt with intellectuals, such as Paul Robeson and W.E.B. du Bois. Much of her work during this time concerned the African struggle for liberation and their impact on the world. People identified Hansberry as a lesbian, and several of her works concern sexual freedom, an important topic. She died of cancer at the age of 34 years.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,539 reviews
Profile Image for Brina.
903 reviews4 followers
May 5, 2017
In 1959, 29 year old Lorraine Hansberry wrote A Raisin in the Sun, which went on to become "one of a handful of great American plays." Five years later she would succumb to cancer but not before Raisin penetrated the upper echelon of American plays. What is remarkable about Hansberry's rise to stardom is that she was virtually unknown and African American at a time when African Americans were just starting to make gains in society. And yet Raisin made to Broadway and television, cementing its place as a classic American play.

The year is sometime between World War II and 1959, when Hansberry first produced this play. The Younger family of Chicago's south side has lived in a two flat apartment for as long as they can remember. Upon the death of the family's patriarch Big Walter, Mama Lena stands to gain $10,000 in life insurance money. At the time, this was a considerable sum of money, and Mama desired to use it fulfill the American dream- buy a house, put her daughter through college, invest in her son's business plans. Yet, things do not go according to plan.

Hansberry has created memorable characters in Mama, her daughter Beneatha, son Walter Lee, and daughter-in-law Ruth. Beneatha represents the new black woman, attempting to finish medical school at a time when few blacks or women became doctors. She also was enticed by the back to Africa movement popular at the time even though her family believed her to have a brighter future in America. Meanwhile, Walter Lee dreams of starting a chain of businesses and moving up in the world so that his children could have a brighter future than the life he and has parents have lived. His wife Ruth shares those dreams to a certain extent and like any family there is tension between the couple, which Hansberry pens eloquently.

Hansberry touches on the racial prejudices still prevalent even in northern cities in the years between Jackie Robinson integrating baseball and the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Whites torched blacks' properties, paid them not to move into their neighborhoods, or started the white flight movement. The Youngers want to fulfill the American dream that had been absent to them in their years as slaves, sharecroppers, chauffeurs, and maids. Their white would-be neighbors want to do all in their power to prevent this from happening. Hansberry's words ring out today as much as they did in 1959. The tensions had be captivated to find out the denouement and must have been even more powerful on stage, with gifted actors as Esther Rolle as Mama and Sidney Poitier as Walter Lee. Yet, these words still are poignant when read in book form these 57 years later.

Lorraine Hansberry penetrated the inner circle of American playwrights at a time when African Americans had a select few role models to look up to. Her play is still discussed in schools as a lesson in race relations and tolerance to all people. In a short five years between Raisin's debut and her untimely death, she penned three more plays as well as memoirs, which had been released posthumously. I rate Hansberry's everlasting contribution to American play writing, A Raisin in the Sun, 5 bright stars. I look forward to reading her other plays.
Profile Image for Fabian.
947 reviews1,564 followers
September 10, 2020
May just possibly be my all-time favorite American play*. The circuit is so taut, the story is so heartbreaking, life-altering and thought-provoking--I cannot wait to ever catch it live at the theatre.

At 29, Hansberry orchestrated something even Arthur Miller & Tennessee Williams wanted--a TRUE portrait of the American Family, how the roles are intertwined & dependent upon the others. The maestros don't come as close as she, I am inclined to think...

*Well... a more modern work, "Angels in America" makes it a tie.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
May 19, 2022
Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

“I just tried to find the nicest place for the least amount of money for my family”--Mama

“Americans suffer from an ignorance that is not only colossal, but sacred”---James Baldwin

A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry, first produced in 1959, is one of the great American plays, set in Chicago and pertaining to racist housing practices, something Hansberry’s family actually experienced when they moved, suffering rocks through their windows and a (failed) lawsuit against their moving in. Hansberry faced years of no one wanting to publish this play, then no one wanted to produce the play, then no one actually wanted to rent space for a theatrical production of the play, but when it was finally produced it met popular and critical acclaim, the first commercially successful play by an African American author.

One can actually say this play helped to create some of the conditions for The Fair Housing Act of 1968 that prohibits discrimination concerning housing based on race, religion, national origin or sex. The Fair Housing Act is one of the great legislative achievements of the civil rights era. Yet in 1975, the cast of Raisin, the musical, became involved in defense of a family whose home in Queens, New York City, had been fire-bombed, and the 1972 City Commissioner of Human Rights Report became public, citing “eleven cases in the last eighteen months in which minority-owned homes had been set afire or vandalized, a church had been bombed, and a school bus had been attacked”—and all this in presumed-left-leaning New York City alone.

What’s the play about? Mama, Walter and Ruth, Beneatha, Travis, living in a dingy south side Chicago apartment and their American dream to buy a house with some inheritance money. And some pushback they get from their new white “neighbors.” It’s also about Beneatha’s growing feminist and Africanist identity and her dream to become a doctor. It’s about Walter’s (he’s described as a volcano) dream to run a liquor store after years of driving a limo. It’s about Mama’s dream to keep the family together.

It’s about questions of assimilation, and hair and identity.

It’s also a play of crackling dialogue:

Walter: There you are. Man say to his woman: I got me a dream. His woman say: Eat your eggs.

Walter: Sometimes it’s like I can see the future stretched out in front of me—just plain as day. The future, Mama. Hanging over there at the edge of my days. Just waiting for me—a big, looming blank space—full of nothing. Just waiting for me. But it don’t have to be.

Mama: Son—how come you talk so much ’bout money?
Walter (With immense passion): Because it is life, Mama!

This play is a kind of cultural forum on the black experience in the late fifties as a foundation for the black power movements of the sixties. And is still mightily relevant today. I read it with my English teaching methods class in conjunction with ninth graders who were also reading it in a school near my campus.

Ruth: Clybourne Park? Mama, there ain’t no colored people living in Clybourne Park.
Mama: Well, I guess there’s going to be some now.
(Neighbor) Mrs. Johnson: You mean you ain’t read ’bout them colored people that was bombed out their place out there?

Later, after Johnson leaves, Beneatha: Mama, if there are two things we, as a people, have got to overcome, one is the Ku Klux Klan—and the other is Mrs. Johnson.

Walter’s liquor license deal falls through, somewhat predictably, and he nearly gives up, in despair, but it is his confrontation with Mr. Lindner of the “Welcoming Committee” that gives the ending it’s peculiar hopefulness. Family!

In Raisin, wrote James Baldwin, “never before in the entire history of the American theater had so much of the truth of black people’s lives been seen on the stage.” It paved the way for the cycle of plays from August Wilson, and many others. Racist killing in Buffalo? It's as if the war never ended; because it hasn't.
Profile Image for Timothy Urgest.
507 reviews264 followers
August 3, 2021
It’s dangerous, son.
What’s dangerous?
When a man goes outside his home to look for peace.

A Raisin in the Sun clearly illustrates the motivations of each member of the Younger family in an empathetic and relatable way. I could be any one of these people, and yet, as the White cis male that I am, I will never experience the prejudice and hate that surrounds Black lives or experience the difficulty of reaching the dreams that are dragged out of my reach.

The play follows a small family that is attempting to move up in life, to find a business that matters or a home that is worth more than the apartment that is falling down around them. We see the challenges of being Black in a world that shrugs off Black suffering as if it does not matter. And we see the ignorance that hides in everyday life and the manipulation that can hide in a supposed act of kindness.

This is a beautiful play that I wish I could watch live. The fallibility of the characters is most touching. The saddest part is that the tribulations faced by the characters are still relevant.

Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most? When they done good and made things easy for everybody? Well then, you ain’t through learning—because that ain’t the time at all. It’s when he’s at his lowest and can’t believe in hisself ‘cause the world done whipped him so! When you starts measuring somebody, measure him right, child, measure him right. Make sure you done taken into account what hills and valleys he come through before he got to wherever he is.
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,138 followers
February 18, 2017
First published in 1959, this play tells the story of a poor African-American family ruled by "mama" who has big plans to make a better life for her family, but must wait for "the check" and overcome a few obstacles along the way. (like her bitter and self-absorbed son Walter)

Set in a small rundown roach-infested apartment on Chicago's south side, A RAISIN IN THE SUN brings to light issues of racism and segregation, but also family pride and forgiveness.

Another surprisingly good play!

Profile Image for Joel.
409 reviews22 followers
February 9, 2008
What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

I decided to assign this to my Honors American Lit class before I had even read it myself. I'm so glad I did! I really enjoyed the characters. And while students get a kick out of lines like "Why you always wear them faggoty white shoes?" it also deals with some important ideas about material versus spiritual or transcendental goals, about self-identity, and what it is to be a man. I was pleased and moved.
Profile Image for Diane.
1,080 reviews2,655 followers
April 20, 2017
What an outstanding play!

Recently I saw an excellent production of A Raisin in the Sun, and it was so good I decided to reread the play. I first read this in college during a course on African American Theater, and as part of the class we watched the 1961 film, starring Sidney Poitier in the role he debuted on Broadway in 1959.

The film is great, but this was my first time seeing the play performed live, and it was incredibly moving. The story follows the Youngers, a black family in Chicago's Southside in the 1950s. All the scenes are set in their cramped apartment, and we quickly learn that tensions are high for the family. The matriarch, Mama Lena, recently lost her husband and is expecting a $10,000 insurance check. Her son, Walter, is drunk with hope that he can use that money to invest in a liquor store. Meanwhile, Mama's daughter, Beneatha, is in college and wants to be a doctor, but she's also juggling two very different suitors, George and Asagai. Walter's wife, Ruth, learns she's pregnant and is worried for the future. The couple's young son, Travis, is forced to sleep on the living room couch every night, and Ruth is worried things will never get better.

What is impressive about this play is how many social issues come up in the family conversations, but it never feels forced. It's just life as it is, and the play became a landmark not just because it was the first time a black woman wrote a play that was performed on Broadway, but because of how relatable these family problems were. Parents not understanding their children. Children experimenting with different cultures. Adults wanting their life to mean more than just an hourly wage. Everyone wishing for a nicer home. What family can't relate to this?

If you ever have a chance to see a production of A Raisin in the Sun, I highly recommend it. Five stars for Lorraine Hansberry.

The title of the play is taken from a poem by Langston Hughes:

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore —
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat
Or crust and sugar over —
Like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Favorite Quotes
MAMA: Something has changed ... 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.

ASAGAI: 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?

MAMA: Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most? When they done good and made things easy for everybody? Well then, you ain't through learning — because that ain't the time at all. It's when he's at his lowest and can't believe in hisself 'cause the world done whipped him so! When you starts measuring somebody, measure him right, child, measure him right. Make sure you done taken into account what hills and valleys he come through before he got to wherever he is.
Profile Image for leynes.
1,103 reviews2,954 followers
June 7, 2020
A Raisin in the Sun (1959) is hands down one of my favorite plays. Usually, only Oscar (my smol son) can lure me in with his dramas but Lorraine might have snatched that crown from his hands. Where Oscar is witty and hilarious, Lorraine is ruthless and raw. She doesn't shy away from showing the harsh reality black people, especially black women, faced in the United States.
What happens to a dream deferred?

      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?

      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.

      Or does it explode?

Harlem (by Langston Hughes)
Hughes was specifically addressing the situation of blacks in America, who had been systematically denied access to the various American dreams of education, career, purchasing power, etc. Asking if deferred dreams explode is a subtle (or not so subtle) way of reminding readers that deferred dreams don’t always decay and disappear; they can very well trigger explosions.

The epigraph is a way for Hansberry to point to both the universal nature of her play – everyone has dreams – and its particular nature – black Americans have been forced to defer their dreams more than others.

The play speaks to issues that are now inescapable: value systems of the black family; concepts of African American beauty and identity; class and generational conflicts; the relationships of husbands and wives, black men and women; the outspoken (if then yet unnamed) feminism of the daughter; and, in the penultimate scene between Beneatha and Asagai, the larger statement of the play which functions as a mirror to the central battle of its time: integration vs pan-africanism.

The story tells of a black family's experiences in the Washington Park Subdivision of Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood as they attempt to "better" themselves with an insurance payout of $10,000 following the death of the father.

Walter and Ruth Younger, their son Travis, along with Walter's mother Lena (Mama) and Walter's sister Beneatha, live in poverty in a dilapidated two-bedroom apartment on Chicago's south side. Walter is barely making a living as a limousine driver. Though Ruth is content with their lot, Walter is not and desperately wishes to become wealthy. His plan is to invest in a liquor store in partnership with Willy and Bobo, street-smart acquaintances of Walter's.

While all this is going on, Beneatha's character and direction in life are being defined for us by two different men: Beneatha's wealthy and educated boyfriend George Murchison, and Joseph Asagai. George represents the "fully assimilated black man" who denies his African heritage with a "smarter than thou" attitude, which Beneatha finds disgusting, while dismissively mocking Walter's lack of money and education. Asagai patiently teaches Beneatha about her African heritage; he gives her thoughtfully useful gifts from Africa, while pointing out she is unwittingly assimilating herself into white ways. She straightens her hair, for example, which he characterizes as "mutilation."

A Raisin in the Sun was the first play written by a black woman to be produced on Broadway, as well as the first with a black director (Lloyd Richards). With a cast in which all but one minor character is African-American, A Raisin in the Sun was considered a risky investment, and it took over a year for producer Philip Rose to raise enough money to launch it. There was disagreement with how it should be played, with focus on the mother or focus on the son. When the play hit New York, Poitier played it with the focus on the son and found not only his calling but an audience enthralled.

However, the reception of the play showed in a shocking way the disconnect between white and black culture in the US. While the play was celebrated by white and black audiences alike, the reasons were completely different ones. Thus, in many reviews from white people (and later academic studies), the Younger family was transformed into an acceptably 'middle class' family. The decision to move became a desire to 'integrate' (rather than, as Mama says simply, 'to find the nicest house for the least amount of money for my family … Them houses they put up for colored in them areas way out always seem to cost twice as much.')

The Younger family is part of the black majority, and the concerns dismissed as 'middle class' – buying a home and moving into 'white folks' neighborhoods' – are actually reflective of the essence of black people's striving and the will to defeat segregation, discrimination, and national oppression. There is no such thing as 'white folks' neighborhood' except to racists and to those submitting to racism.

Mama herself – about whose "acceptance" of her "place" in the society there is not a word in the play, and who, in quest of her family's survival over the soul- and body-crushing conditions of the ghetto, is prepared to defy housing-pattern taboos, threats, bombs, and God knows what else – became the safely "conservative" matriarch, upholder of the social order and proof that if one only perseveres with faith, everything will come out right in the end and the-system-ain't-so-bad-after-all. At the same time, necessarily, Big Walter Younger – the husband who reared this family with her and whose unseen presence and influence can be heard in every scene – vanished from analysis.

And perhaps most ironical of all to the playwright, who had herself as a child been almost killed in such a real-life story, the climax of the play became, pure and simple, a "happy ending" – despite the fact that it leaves the Youngers on the brink of what will surely be, in their new home, at best a nightmare of uncertainty. ("If he thinks that's a happy ending," said Hansberry in an interview, "I invite him to come live in one of the communities where the Youngers are going!")

In her early childhood, Lorraine's parents bought a house in the white neighborhood of Washington Park, an action that resulted in a legal case (Hansberry v. Lee (1940)). Lorraine reflects upon the litigation in her book To Be Young, Gifted, and Black:
Twenty-five years ago, [my father] spent a small personal fortune, his considerable talents, and many years of his life fighting, in association with NAACP attorneys, Chicago’s ‘restrictive covenants’ in one of this nation's ugliest ghettos. That fight also required our family to occupy disputed property in a hellishly hostile ‘white neighborhood’ in which literally howling mobs surrounded our house. ... My memories of this ‘correct’ way of fighting white supremacy in America include being spat at, cursed and pummeled in the daily trek to and from school. And I also remember my desperate and courageous mother, patrolling our household all night with a loaded German Luger (pistol), doggedly guarding her four children, while my father fought the respectable part of the battle in the Washington court.
The play develops the theme of standing up to racial discrimination by fighting it on many fronts. By cowing down to threats by whites or by accepting financial considerations to accept the demands made by the whites only make life harder for the colored people. In the play, the Younger family aspires to better living conditions and better education. They are conscientious law abiding citizens but the neighbors cannot see beyond their color.

In addition to its brilliant exploration of timely themes such as the emasculation of the black man and the consequences of instutionalized racism, the play could score in other areas as well, especially with its humour. Hansberry had a knack for including scenes that were absolutely true-to-life while still exploring the comedy of the situation:
Ruth: What kind of eggs do you want?
Walter: Not scrambled. (RUTH starts to scramble eggs)
I have never encountered a more loving and real family in fiction. Lorraine balanced the heart-wrenching and light-hearted scenes with excellence. A Raisin in the Sun made me laugh and cry and above all, think. You need this in your life!
Profile Image for Bam cooks the books ;-).
1,854 reviews231 followers
May 14, 2019
"What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?"
~from Langston Hughes' poem 'Harlem'~

A family of African-Americans, living in a flat on the south side of Chicago, must decide what to do with a $10,000 life insurance check being paid out after the death of the father. Mama wants to realize her dream of having a real home with a garden; daughter Beneatha wants to go to medical school and become a doctor; son Walter wants to invest with friends and open a liquor store. Can any of these dreams come true?

It's amazing how much about American life and family relationships playwright Hansberry was able to fit into the length of one 3-hour play! Written in 1959, Hansberry was able to see issues that were coming to the forefront of our society--not only civil rights and desegregation efforts but also feminism. Many of the topics she addresses are still important today. We have not put racism behind us yet, as recent events show all too clearly.

The May, 2019 book club selection for my library's Readers Roundtable group. A classic play; a must read.
Profile Image for Werner.
Author 3 books579 followers
February 26, 2022
Back in the 90s, when my wife and I were homeschooling our daughters, I watched the 1989 American Playhouse production of this play on VHS, in preparation for teaching high-school level American Literature, and was deeply impressed with it. I made it required viewing for that class; but I'd never read the play itself until this week. Very often, plays are better experienced by watching them performed than by reading them. In this case, though, while the 1989 production brings the script to life visually, which adds a dimension, the play itself still repays reading even if you've watched the latter. That's partly because the 1994 Vintage Books edition, which is the one I read, has the whole text of the play as the author wrote it, whereas even the 1989 production cut some of it (though not as much as the producers of the 1959 Broadway performance did). It's also because, like James Barrie in The Admirable Crichton, Hansberry used the stage directions not just to guide the actors' movements, but to give significant information about the characters' thoughts and feelings and to comment on the action, and her scene introductions provide a lot more than bare physical description. That material adds greatly to the experience of her vision, and doesn't come through as such at all in a production.

The title comes from a poem by Langston Hughes, “Dream Deferred” (which I have not read), some of which is quoted as an epigraph for the written play, and reads in part, “What happens to a dream deferred?/ Does it dry up/ Like a raisin in the sun?” The dream of the African-American community in general has been for fair and equal treatment in the nation in which they were born and of which they're a part. Here, though, we're not presented with “the African-American community” as an abstraction, but with a very concrete black family, the Youngers, living in an overcrowded south Chicago apartment in the late 1940s or 50s (roughly the author's present). Likewise, their particular long-deferred dreams are more specific than a vague “fair and equal treatment.” Family matriarch Lena and her now-dead husband dreamed of someday owning a home that's big enough to adequately house their family, and not infested with roaches and rats. Her son Walter dreams of owning his own business and making enough money to feel successful and important, give his wife an easy life, and open vistas of dreams for his own son, instead of working for someone else in a dead-end, low-paying job. And his college-student sister Beneatha has dreamed since childhood of becoming a medical doctor. Now, the impending payment of the late Mr. Younger's life insurance money may provide a down payment on some of those dreams. But choices will have to be made; and poverty and racism are formidable challenges in the path of any of their dreams.

It's difficult to do justice to this play in a review, because it has so much breadth and depth. There's a lot here, and its messages are presented naturally through the lives and situations of the characters, who are well-drawn, three-dimensional distinct individuals who come across with enormous realism. (They discuss ideas at times, but those conversations don't come across as sermons.) And in some instances Hansberry raises questions she doesn't try to answer; she just encourages her readers/viewers to think about answers for themselves. All of the important characters have their foibles; they don't all think alike or agree with each other all of the time, they don't always make smart choices, and they sometimes don't handle conflict situations in the most constructive way. But we can understand what's in their heads, and that none of them are bad people as such –they're just human. And while they're people of a particular race, facing a particular socio-economic situation in a specific culture, Hansberry has achieved what not many playwrights necessarily do, a work of art that uses the particular to tap into universal themes that can speak to all people, of any race, in any time and place. And as the truly great works of literature always do, it climaxes with a moment of significant moral decision. Over 60 years after it was written, this play has stood the test of time as one of the crown jewels of American drama. It continues to be both highly relevant and emotionally powerful.

This particular edition is enhanced by an Introduction, a bit over nine pages long, by Robert Nemiroff, who was Hansberry's husband when the play was written and produced (though they divorced amicably before she died), and her designated literary executor. (Besides discussing the message and themes of the play and making a case for its significance, he explains the many omissions in the original production, which were mainly just due to logistical factors.) Sadly, as the short “About the Author” notes, Hansberry herself died in 1965 of pancreatic cancer, at the age of only 34.
Profile Image for Nat K.
415 reviews154 followers
October 8, 2022
The play opens to show the crowded living room of the Younger family. It’s well loved, with worn furniture, and the tiniest kitchen that you could not swing a cat in. On the couch sleeps Travis, a lad of eleven. As the play progresses, we learn that this tiny space is shared amongst five people. All crammed up against each other, sharing a bathroom down the hall with other families in the apartment block they live in.

Emotions are bound to spill over, and they do. Mama - Lena Younger - the matriarch of the family is waiting for the postman to arrive. As is her son Walter Lee. He’s perhaps even more anxious than she. For in the mail, a cheque is due to arrive, for the princely sum of $10,000. A very decent sum nowadays, let alone in the 1950s. The money is a payout from the life insurance of her husband, now passed. It is his blood, sweat and tears, and ultimately the loss of his life, that makes this mail delivery so terribly important. Her dream is to buy the family a home of their own, and to leave the cockroach infested flat they rent a distant memory. The Younger family have some big decisions to make about where to spend this money. And a Pandora’s Box is opened, as they all have very different ideas - and needs - about how this should be done.

The themes of family, hopes & dreams butting heads is so true.

Is it wrong to want more? To yearn for more than you have. Is it wrong to dream? Or should you just accept your lot in life, knowing that you die inside a little more each day.

As Lena’s daughter (and Walter Lee’s sister) who has dreams of studying to become a doctor wryly observes:

BENEATHA: Yes…we’ve all got acute ghetto-itis.

This play explores what happens when our dreams and reality clash. The dynamics of three generations of the family living under the one roof, shows how differently they view the world and their place in it. There is intelligent humour throughout, which deftly displays that gender roles and sexuality were changing. Women’s expectations of their role in society, as well as how they should look, what sort of job they should aspire to have, were being questioned. As well the need for a man to be a role model to his son, to show it’s ok to want more, and to not buckle and accept the status quo. Ambition could be healthy. The slow burn of the need for equality, to belong and own a home, without fear of segregation is beautifully handled. There are so many moments of utter sadness, as the characters hurt each other with such precision, as only those we love the most are capable of doing.

Walter, for whom being a chauffeur to a rich white man is understandably starting to pall, turns to drink with frustration. For him, the money represents the chance to reinvent himself, which he hopes to do by opening (ironically) a liquor business with two of his friends. And for that, he needs money. More money than he has.

WALTER: Mama--Mama--I want so many things... I want so many things that they are driving me kind of crazy…

It's amazing to think that this play was written in 1959, yet the writing and themes in it are as fresh and valid today as they were then. It shows that good writing stands the test of time and retains its value. The fashions may change, but human emotions don't.

I was lucky enough to see the STC production of this a few weekends ago. The performance blew me away. It’s so good to see a Writer's words brought to life, and seeing this performed on stage was special. I feel so lucky to have seen it.



The title of the play was taken from the poem “Harlem” by Langston Hughes. A huge part of me feels sad that Ms.Hansberry left this world way too early at the age of only 34, as it would have been amazing to see how her work unfolded.

”What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore --
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?”
- Langston Hughes

Hold onto your dreams, and never give them up.
Profile Image for Paul.
1,180 reviews1,938 followers
January 20, 2019
I don’t often read plays and find them difficult to read, the live experience is obviously much better. However this is a remarkable play and is well worth the effort. Hansberry was a talented writer who died far too young. Nina Simone wrote the song “To be Young, Gifted and Black” about her. This play debuted on Broadway in 1959 with Sidney Poitier playing Walter; a role he reprised in the film.
The play is about the Younger family: mother Lena, brother and sister, Walter and Beneatha, Walter’s wife Ruth and their son Travis. Lena’s husband has recently died and some insurance money is due. The play revolves around what should be done with the money, about hopes and aspirations and differing views about the future. It is about the desire progress, to get on; in this case to get out of that particular part of Chicago. The insurance pay-out is ten thousand dollars and so it is also about whose dreams should be funded. Although it was written in the 1950s it is still relevant and has meaning. It is about dreams and whether they will in the words of Langston Hughes “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun”.
Hansberry once said that, “In order to create the universal, you must pay very great attention to the specific” and that is why this resonates over the years in relation to those in poverty, suffering from injustice and specifically about the black experience. There is a balance in the play between hopes for the future and what might be possible and a sense that nothing will change and it is hopeless to try. James Baldwin commented:
“Never before, in the entire history of American theater, had so much of the truth of black people’s lives been seen on stage.”
The play highlights issues about segregation, dignity and respect. It’s powerful to read and there is an excellent film rendering as well.
Profile Image for Raul.
283 reviews203 followers
August 1, 2019
"An end to misery! To stupidity! Don't you see there isn't any real progress, Asagai, there is only one large circle that we march in, around and around, each of us with our little picture in front of us--our own little mirage of what we think is the future."

This is the best book I've read this year, one of the best I've ever read. It did everything I think a great story should and did it exceptionally well, that is deposit the reader at the end more illuminated, stirred with a better understanding.

The play is centered around the Younger family, a Black family living in Chicago post World War II. With the main characters representing three generations: Lena/Mama, the matriarch of the family representing the older generation, Lena's son Walter, his wife Ruth and sister Beneatha representing the new generation and Travis, the grandchild representing the future generation. The title of the play itself is from Langston Hughes' poem Harlem:

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Told in brilliant storytelling, the dreams of all these characters are presented, weighed, scoffed at, some humbler than others but all generations keeping and trying to maintain a dream that the system they're living under not only refuses to recognize, but actively works to ruin.

I'll be thinking about this story for a while, going through the incredible characterization, all the wonderful scenes and there are several that I will pick up and look at still marveling, and that superb ending.
Profile Image for Nancy.
557 reviews769 followers
August 3, 2020
I’m deeply ashamed that I’ve only recently learned about this award-winning play while browsing lists of the best African-American literature.

My library had a copy, and I started reading as soon as I got home.

While this was a very quick read, there are so many universal themes. Anyone who has been an outsider, has experienced prejudice, or struggled with financial hardship will be able to relate. The family interactions and problems were realistic and no different than those faced by modern families.

The 1989 TV adaptation can be found here:

The library also has Lorraine Hansberry’s To Be Young, Gifted, and Black: An Informal Autobiography, which I hope to read soon.

Profile Image for Louie the Mustache Matos.
951 reviews67 followers
April 19, 2023
A Raisin in the Sun is a classic American play written by Lorraine Hansberry that depicts the black American experience of segregation through the eyes of a black family living in the southside of Chicago in the late 1950s. It is a short play in book length, but much longer in stage length (of course). The characters are memorable, struggling with an African American experience that is distinct in some ways to the white experience, and trying to find a way around the societal obstacles endemic to the time period. The story is optimistic, which points to the natural optimism of the writer, and I believe helped to ameliorate some of the impediments that might have prevented this play from getting made. IMHO, that would have been a shame. Definitely one of the best things I have read this year (2021).
Profile Image for Tim McIntosh.
59 reviews97 followers
April 19, 2022
After reading Raisin again, after seeing the Sidney Poitier movie again, after discussing it on the Close Reads podcast, I've decided to go on a crusade. My crusade: Raisin in the Sun is the best play of the 20th century. There. I said it.

What play matches Raisin for power, language, character, and plot construction? I'm a playwright, actor, and director. I've read many, many plays and I can't think of a better play! For sure, Lorraine Hansberry's play gets plenty of academic attention. But I fear that the academy confines it's esteem as a play about the black experience in America.

To be sure, A Raisin in the Sun is a play about the black experience in America. But it's message is broader. It's about one family; it's about all families. It's about one life on the margins; it's about all life on the margins. It's about the dignity of Walter, Ruth, and Beneatha; it's about the dignity of human beings.

Don't take my word for it. See the 1961 movie. Read it. Attend a local performance. Join the crusade.
Profile Image for James.
94 reviews96 followers
November 15, 2022
If Death of a Salesman was a punch to the gut, then this was a knife to the stomach followed by a brutal body-slam to the ground. If I was a high school English teacher trying to decide which one of these two classic plays to share with my students, this would easily win my vote.

My mind is completely blown by the fact that this was first produced in 1959. Lorraine Hansberry's self-assurance and bravery in tackling topics as polarizing and prescient as housing discrimination, racial segregation, urban poverty, Black masculinity, feminism, class divisions, natural hair and notions of Black beauty, assimilationism, abortion, colonialism, and of course the deceptive myth of the American Dream....all in the context of an intimate domestic drama that never once leaves its modest living room setting....is truly astonishing.

Hansberry was a prophetess and pioneer in ways I don't think I've ever fully known or appreciated before now, and I'm eager to read everything else she managed to write before cancer cruelly stole her away from us at such a tragically young age.

For all its seething rage and gut-wrenching pathos, there's a surprising amount of humor and familial love and JOY that also sings out through this play's pages. Which of course only makes its more tragic elements all the more poignant (I was moved to tears at least twice while READING this, so I'm probably going to be a blubbering mess when I see it performed live on stage next weekend).

The dialogue crackles with the natural rhythms and half-truths of real human conversation, as opposed to contrived "characters" delivering stagey, self-conscious monologues.

And while there's an urgent (and sadly still too relevant) specificity to the racial discrimination and economic struggles faced by these characters that should not be downplayed or ignored, there's also an honest and universal depiction of the human condition here that transcends time, race, or class.

Looking forward to checking out some of the film adaptations as well as seeing the current Off-Broadway production next weekend.
Profile Image for Huda Aweys.
Author 5 books1,318 followers
May 14, 2015
عن الظروف الاجتماعية للسود .. مشاكلهم و حياتهم في امريكا ..، مسرحية رائعة ادخلتنى الى عالمهم ..
و جعلتني اعايش آلامهم .. آمالهم .. طموحاتهم ..، كاتبة مرهفه و موهوبة فعلا انها تقدر توّصل كل دا ، و مترجمة موهوبة كمان و امينة على ما اتذكر :) ، لأنى قرأت الكتاب دا زمان من فترة طويلة الحقيقة
Profile Image for Paul Haspel.
543 reviews68 followers
May 14, 2023
A raisin in the sun can dry up – as can a dream deferred, according to the great Langston Hughes poem that inspired the title of this classic 1959 play by Lorraine Hansberry. But in that same poem, Hughes evoked other possible scenarios of what can happen if a dream is forever deferred, always put off for another day. Hughes suggests that a dream deferred can fester, like an untreated sore; or it can come to stink, like unrefrigerated meat allowed to rot; or it can crust over, like a piece of candy left out in the open; or it can sag and weigh upon one’s shoulders, like an unbearably heavy load carried forever. Or it can explode. Named for the first of those possibilities, A Raisin in the Sun explores them all with singular intensity, as it dramatizes the challenges facing the Youngers, a mid-20th-century African American family whose dreams of escaping the slums of Chicago’s South Side seem for a time likely to be forever deferred.

I began re-reading A Raisin in the Sun on a Mother’s Day some time ago because of the character of Lena Younger, the matriarch of the Younger family. Lena -- or "Mama," as she is customarily called by the other characters -- is, to my mind, one of the truly great mothers in all of literature. The stage directions that accompany Lena’s first entrance in the play emphasize author Hansberry’s love and reverence for the character – and make me wonder if Lena Younger was based on some real-life family member for whom Hansberry felt comparable tenderness:

She is a woman in her early sixties, full-bodied and strong. She is one of those women of a certain grace and beauty who wear it so unobtrusively that it takes a while to notice….[B]eing a woman who has adjusted to many things in life and overcome many more, her face is full of strength. She has, we can see, wit and faith of a kind that keep her eyes lit and full of interest and expectancy. She is, in a word, a beautiful woman. Her bearing is perhaps most like the noble bearing of the women of the Hereros of Southwest Africa… (p. 23).

In the character of Lena, we see a looking-back to the strength of character of African American women of the past – brave matriarchs who worked to hold families together against the horrors of slavery and the indignities of segregation. And her character takes us even further back in time: to traditional tribal nations of West Africa where women’s wisdom and leadership were respected and valued, in stark contrast with the “man’s world” mentality that has permeated too much of American life for too many years.

As the play begins, Lena and the members of her household – her daughter, Beneatha; her son, Walter Lee; Walter Lee’s wife, Ruth; and Travis, Lena’s grandson and the son of Walter Lee and Ruth – are awaiting a $10,000 insurance check attendant upon the passing of Lena’s late husband. All are in agreement that they want to make a change from their current circumstances – a South Side apartment building where the facilities are so substandard that the Youngers must share a bathroom with other families on the same floor, and where children chase rats through the alleys for play.

Disagreement occurs with regard to how to make a change, what to do with the money. Lena dreams of moving the whole family out of the inner city, to a new home in a nicer area. Beneatha, age 20, whose intellectual gifts are considerable, but who has flitted from one interest to another – drama, guitar, horseback-riding, photography – dreams of becoming a physician. Her two suitors show radically different responses to this dream: George Murchison, from a wealthy family, pooh-poohs her dream as assiduously as he puts down the West African heritage in which Beneatha takes pride. By contrast, Joseph Asagai, an international student from Nigeria, encourages Beneatha to follow her dreams, even as he pokes gentle fun at her dilettantish ways.

Most crucially for the dramatic action of the play, 35-year-old Walter Lee, dissatisfied with his work as a chauffeur, dreams of becoming a wheeling-and-dealing entrepreneur by buying into a liquor store with some friends – never mind that the reader or viewer wonders at once, as Lena wonders aloud, whether the South Side of Chicago needs another liquor store. Both slavery and segregation were all-out assaults on the manhood of the African American man; and in the character of Walter Lee, we see someone who is desperate to prove that he is a man, and who may not see that he is trying to prove his manhood in all the wrong ways.

Given the money by Lena as a sign of her trust, Walter Lee makes a critical, and critically bad, choice that makes it seem for a time as though all of the Youngers’ dreams will go forever unfulfilled. The passages of the play in which Walter Lee confronts the unraveling of his liquor-store dream are among the most painful in the play. And as if there wasn’t enough going on in the Youngers’ lives, they receive a visit from one Karl Lindner, a representative of the Clybourne Park “welcoming committee” who announces that the committee is willing to pay the Youngers not to move into the hitherto all-white community.

Advantages of this Modern Library edition of A Raisin in the Sun include an introductory essay by Robert Nemiroff, Hansberry’s widower and literary executor, who provides helpful and informative insights into how the play came to be and how it fits into Hansberry’s too-short literary career (she was only 34 years old when she died of cancer). Another added strength of this edition is that it includes a scene that was excised from the original play for time reasons, but that makes a critical contribution to the thematic unity of Hansberry’s drama.

In this scene, a neighbor of the Youngers, one Mrs. Johnson, pays the family a visit; while ostensibly she wishes to congratulate the Youngers on “getting ready to ‘move on up a little higher’” (p. 83), she makes a point of imagining a newspaper headline about the Youngers’ new home being bombed, and ends up denouncing the Youngers as “one proud-acting bunch of colored folks” (p. 87). Lindner’s willingness to offer a bribe to maintain Clybourne Park’s all-white status is thus complemented by Mrs. Johnson’s resentment of an African American family that is not content with their circumstances – and the challenges facing the Youngers are doubly emphasized.

In his foreword, Nemiroff expresses muted respect for the 1961 film version of A Raisin in the Sun, but shows a decided preference for the 1989 American Playhouse version, with Esther Rolle as Lena and Danny Glover as Walter Lee. I respectfully disagree. I think Daniel Petrie’s 1961 film is a masterpiece; its stark black-and-white photography captures beautifully the Youngers’ struggles against a world that divides everything into black and white. Amid an array of gifted actors in great performances (including Ruby Dee as Ruth and Louis Gossett Jr. as George Murchison), Sidney Poitier as Walter Lee delivers one of the most focused and intense portrayals in the history of American cinema. Poitier’s performance is a tour de force, and is not to be missed.

When I consider Lorraine Hansberry’s work, I continually find myself coming back to the tragedy of her early demise. Only 34 years old – so very young. Imagine if Shakespeare had died when he was 34, in 1598. No Hamlet then, no King Lear, no The Tempest. What great plays were our nation and the world denied by Hansberry’s dying before her time? But even more than that, I feel saddened that Hansberry was not able to live out her full span of years for her own sake. I like to imagine her living on for many decades more, having children of her own if she wanted to, becoming a real-life Mama Younger in her own right and sharing her wisdom and insights with future generations. Sadly, that was not to be. But A Raisin in the Sun endures, as an undying testament to Hansberry’s literary talent, and to the imperishable African American dream of which Hansberry, like Langston Hughes before her, wrote so eloquently.
Profile Image for Georgia Scott.
Author 3 books156 followers
July 23, 2022
I confess to once bursting into tears while giving a lecture on this.
It resonates in so many ways. On race, of course. On dreams. On family. On courage. On the silliness of youth and wisdom of years. It is an American story. Timeless. Beautiful.

Read. Then, watch Sidney Poitier bring it to life. You will never forget it. And I don't say that lightly.
Profile Image for Ivana Books Are Magic.
523 reviews191 followers
January 15, 2020
There are many things I liked about this play, most notably the theme and the emotion behind it. When a work of literature moves your heart, you know it is doing its job well. I would describe “Raisin in the sun” as a memorable and powerful play. The writing isn't particularly poetical, but it feels quite authentic. The setting and the characters are well developed and convincing. Despite the fact that it has some flaws and that the ending might feel a bit sudden, I think it is, on overall, quite a successful play.

I think Hansberry was successful in creating the atmosphere and the setting, although she does not use much description as such. Yes, plays don't really have descriptions in a sense that a novel does, but what I mean to say is that she "shows" rather than "tells", i.e she is a fine dramatist. For instance you get the idea about characters from dialogues; there are no long monologues (that would be really out of place in this kind of play). It's a play that is set in a specific time and place, so it was important to recreate this- she did. In that sense there is a really natural feeling to the play. That is one of the things I liked the most. You are more likely to believe in the characters and feel for them if they feel authentic.

The dialogues in this play were really enjoyable to read. They were well written, that's for sure. In general, the conversation in the play sounded very natural. The characters for most part were well developed. Female characters were more convincing than males ones but that often happens with female writers. Women often -not always, but often- create convincing female characters and vice versa.

What bothered me a little bit was that I felt some of things that happen in the play were quite unrealistic, especially in the area of character development. Nevertheless, it is one of my favourite plays. It addresses important issues and its message is candid and important. It was a play in which I really sympathized with the characters- in particular with the female ones. For instance I just loved Mama( the matriarch of the family). She is the kind of character that just warms my heart. After reading it, I felt more hopeful, encouraged- something like that- and that's a good feeling to experience. Therefore, I feel that I can really recommend this play.
Profile Image for Shannon .
1,221 reviews2,164 followers
May 9, 2010
There are more than a few established classics that I had never heard of until I did my teaching degree here in Canada. Since everyone else had come through the Canadian school system, they were very knowing about "The Lottery", Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird and A Raisin in the Sun. These established American classics got blank looks from me. Well, not so much Mockingbird; I'd heard of that one a couple of years before, and the name was familiar to me from before moving here.

But I'd never heard of A Raisin in the Sun. Here in Toronto, grade 9 kids watch the movie and read the play, and it seems to make a lasting impression, given how excited the adults in my English class at OISE* were every time it was mentioned. Since I wanted to teach English (and History) here**, I thought I better brush up on the local canon (no one seemed to notice or care that their institutionalised English canon was largely American, even though there are plenty of good Canadian works around - neglected, but hanging on all the same).

If, like me, you aren't familiar with this play from the 50s, here's a quick run-down: set in Chicago in the small and dingy apartment of a black family, the play is about the dreams of these family members - Lena Younger ("Mama"), her son Walter and daughter Beneatha, Walter's wife Ruth and their young boy Travis - and their excitement and anticipation for a cheque of ten thousand dollars from the life insurance of Lena's husband. They each have dreams of what they could do with the money, which belongs to Lena. She wants to put most of it towards Beneatha's medical degree so she can be a doctor. Ruth wants a home of her own. Her husband Walter wants the money to get into a bottle-shop business with two other men, so he can quit being a chauffeur to some rich white family.

Money, as usual, causes more problems than it solves, but in the case of the Younger family it's more complicated than that. There's so much subtlety in this play, so much going on in the small details. It's exquisitely written, simple, honest, forthright, daring, vulnerable, earnest, and yearning. Each character captures so much, embodies so much (they are each a cliché, it's true, but that only makes them even more representative - plus, clichés are clichés because they're true, not because they're unoriginal; at least, that's how they start). They are believable as individuals and as part of a family - and also as spokespeople for their fellows. They way they speak, each with their own distinct cadence and pronunciation and diction; their ideals and aspirations: they live and breath on the page just as they would on the stage.

What really struck me as I was reading this, is that if you had told me it was written last year, or anytime really, I would have believed you. It still seems so current, so relevant. Yes, regarding black people in a white-dominated world, but also regarding the lower classes, the working poor. Even if race relations were better than they are, class divisions persist just as rottenly as ever.

This story really impressed me. I ached for them. I felt what they felt, even when these feelings contradicted themselves as the family members came head-to-head - especially against Walter. You can't help but empathise with them all, in an earthy, human, organic way. And considering how little, really, has changed - yes, the play is just as relevant and timely as ever, not just in America (for which I can't personally speak) but just as especially in other ex-British colonies like Canada and Australia, which are more multi-cultural but just as divisive in their way.

There's more going on this play that class and race. Beneatha represents a struggle for identity and frustrated feminism, and her friend Joseph Asagai brings the larger, political spectrum into their living room - especially interesting in the context of having recently read Half of a Yellow Sun. There's the issue of rights, of responsibility and morality, and a day-to-day struggle that felt familiar. I like how the play's described in the blurb, as "authentic, unsentimental and unflinching" - three excellent words to capture the quality of this play.


* OISE stands for "Ontario Institute for Studies in Education"; it's part of the University of Toronto. Apparently it's the most difficult place to get into for a teaching degree - really it just has the best location so everyone applies and they get their pick of the best.

** I still do want to teach here, but at graduation I discovered that there are no teaching jobs in the province. Now I'm working at the Ministry of Education and it's even clearer than before that the jobs don't exist - not even for French teachers, not anymore. Scary times. So, my perfect job has been shelved until things improve.
Profile Image for booklady.
2,235 reviews65 followers
September 19, 2015
Hansberry's death from cancer at 34 just six years after the publication and first production of Raisin in the Sun was a real loss to both the literary and dramatic worlds. Not everyone likes to read plays; I enjoy them. This one is exceptional. The characters are well-defined, real, memorable; the interaction among them vibrant, interesting, at times gut-wrenching, never dull. Raisin is a snapshot of black urban life on the eve of the sixties, just before the civil rights movement. And yet, we who know history can read the play as Monday morning quarterbacks and see the foreshadowing in changing hairstyles and generational disputes. Three generations of Youngers share a two room flat in Chicago and struggle to maintain family, dignity, dreams, life and morality against often insurmountable odds. Most highly recommended!

Profile Image for Meagan.
333 reviews174 followers
July 14, 2020
#10Books10Decades Challenge
This was my pick for the 1950's (I'm actually still working on my pick for the 1940's lol who said I had to go in order).

This was really good. will write a longer review later (maybe).
Profile Image for Connie G.
1,691 reviews451 followers
August 30, 2020
Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 play tells about a Chicago black family who receives a life insurance payment after the death of the father. Walter wants to use the money to invest in a liquor store, and his sister wants to put the money toward medical school tuition in her quest to become a doctor. Walter's wife is pregnant and worries that another child will put more pressure on the struggling family financially. Mama thinks the family should move out of the cramped apartment, and puts money down on a house in a white neighborhood where the prices are cheaper.

Moving to the house, in spite of the danger of discrimination if they live in a white neighborhood, is the start of fulfilling one of their dreams. It's a dream that the whole family can share. By the end of the play, Walter has become a man who puts his family's needs and dreams first.

Although the play premiered on Broadway in 1959, "A Raisin in the Sun" is still relevant today. It's difficult for blacks to obtain well paying jobs since expensive educations and the right connections are often necessary. While there has been some improvement, housing markets often practice discrimination. When she was eight years old, Lorraine Hansberry's father bought a home in a white neighborhood, and fought restrictive laws with the help of the NAACP (Hansberry v. Lee, 1940). The experience of her family was the inspiration for this play.
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,658 reviews1,692 followers
December 15, 2020
This was so good, and I'm very glad I read it. So subtle and skillfully put together. To think about this woman dying at 34, and how many more great pieces of art she could have created. This is why I like to do Read Harder every year, because I probably wouldn't have gotten around to this without it.

This is a three act play that follows the Youngers, a black family living on the South Side of Chicago in the 1950s. Mom Lena, son Walter and his wife Ruth and son Travis, and daughter Beneatha all live in the same small apartment. Lena's husband has just died, leaving them a $10k life insurance check. The money becomes a catalyst for the events of the rest of the play.

Hansberry was such a talented writer, you know exactly who these characters are within three pages. The dialogue and stage directions are full of this subtle characterization. The play examines not only the family dynamic, but social and racial dynamics as well, through the story of the Younger family and their desires to have safety, a roof over their heads, for money, for respect, and
to have a better life, though what each person defines that as is different. The racial and social critiques present here sadly remain almost as relevant as they did back when Hansberry wrote this in the 1950s.

If you've somehow missed out on this like I had, highly recommend.

Read Harder Challenge 2020: Read a play by an author of color and/or queer author.
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