A Raisin in the Sun





A Raisin in the Sun


Dreams are of significance in this play. The play has been associated with Montage of a Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes as he questions, “what happens to a dream deferred” (Hansberry 4). He asks if a dream deferred shrinks in similar nature to “a raisin in the sun” or a does it explode. The dreams of the Younger family are the basis of this play. All characters in the play hold diverse dreams and ambitions, which have been deferred because of economic and social challenges attributed to racial segregation. Persistence of all the characters towards achieving dreams results in an all-encompassing sense of expectation, despite the anticipations for future problems (Hansberry 23).

Racial discrimination

Racial segregation and discrimination is evidently one of the major themes that Hansberry sought to communicate to the audience using this play. The author explores the differences in social order and classes that are divided based on their respective races, social status, and economic abilities. The Youngers, as well as other African-American families and minority groups, have been prevented from achieving their dreams by the high levels of racial discrimination prevalent in the country (Hansberry 38).

Family Values

Family is an important issue for the African-American family given that they do not possess riches. The author explored the complex family dynamics of African-Americans using different scenes of conflicts, cooperation, and love that exists amongst family members (Hansberry 33)


Dignity and pride of the Younger family is illustrated in a positive light. Pride is relatively important for the Youngers and other African-American families. This is attributed to the few possessions they own, leaving them only with pride as a value to hope for better economic and social conditions. The play illustrates the differences between pride and money in the Younger family (Hansberry 45)


Disenfranchisement of the African-Americans such as the Younger family is common as illustrated by the author in the play. She notes that impoverishment is high amongst African-Americans due to the high levels of discrimination and segregation which gives them no access to quality education and economic and employment opportunities (Hansberry 47).

Human Suffering

The Younger family lives in a small apartment in the informal settlements with minimal resources for survival. Individuals such as Ruth, Walter, and Lena are all engaged in menial employment, making them unable to sustain the needs of the family members. Suffering is inherent in the lives of the Younger, as well as other African American families (Hansberry 51).


Walter Younger is affected significantly by the various socio-economic challenges prevalent in his community, and more so due to the disenfranchisement of the African American population and other minority groups. Walter is prompted to make reckless decisions given that he is dissatisfied with his life in poverty (Hansberry 55).

Gender Roles

The ideals of femininity and masculinity are carefully woven into the various scenes of the play by the author. Walter is affected by his position in the family and the prevailing economic conditions, which render him unable to provide since he considers himself as the head of the family. The women are either praised or rebuked for their adherence or deviations from traditional values and roles (Hansberry 67).


This is one of the most powerful themes in the play as it is carefully constructed to emphasize the importance of sacrifice as part of family values. Conflicts are common whereby some individuals take advantage over the ability of others to sacrifice for the betterment of the family’s socioeconomic position. Sacrifice is a culminating theme in the final scenes of the play (Hansberry 71).

Power of Choices

All characters in the play illustrate the importance and power of individual liberty towards decision-making and choices. The choices made by individuals such as Walter, Lena, Ruth, and Beneatha are relative to individual principles versus money options. Principle wins over money, with a majority of the individuals making appropriate decisions (Hansberry 63).


Works Cited

Booth, Alison, J P. Hunter, and Kelly J. Mays. The Norton Introduction to Literature. New York: W.W. Norton, 2005. Print.

Domina, Lynn, and Lorraine Hansberry. Understanding a Raisin in the Sun: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1998. Print.

Hager, Kelly, Kelly J. Mays, Barbara Bird, and Linda Yakle. The Norton Introduction to Literature: Instructor’s Guide for the Regular, Shorter, and Portable Editions and the Norton Introduction to Poetry. New York: W.W. Norton, 2005. Print.

Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun: A Drama in Three Acts. New York: Random House, 1959. Print.

Hansberry, Lorraine, and Robert Nemiroff. A Raisin in the Sun: The Unfilmed Original Screenplay. New York, N.Y., U.S.A: Plume Book, 1992. Print.

Loos, Pamela. A Reader’s Guide to Lorraine Hansberry’s a Raisin in the Sun. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 2008. Print.

King, Woodie. The Impact of Race: Theatre and Culture. New York: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, 2003. Print.

Marsh-Lockett, Carol P. Black Women Playwrights: Visions on the American Stage. New York: Garland Pub, 1999. Print.

Mays, Kelly J. The Norton Introduction to Literature, New York: Norton Pub, 2013. Print.

Wiener, Gary. Gender in Lorraine Hansberry’s a Raisin in the Sun. Detroit, Mich: Greenhaven Press, 2011. Print.


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