One of the most notable plays on the topic of racial minorities and family issues, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, has continued to be popular since it was written in 1959. The play is about an African American family, consisting of five members, who live in Southside Chicago during the post-World-War-Two era. The Younger family is crowded in a tiny, worn, and shabby apartment and they are fairly poor. They never have much surplus money until Walter’s father, and Mama’s husband, died and the family received a life-insurance check for ten thousand dollars. The play follows the family’s journey through the fights and distress that come from suddenly obtaining a large amount of money and the differing opinions on how the money should be used. A Raisin in the Sun has been popular since its publication for its realistic portrayal of racism and segregation that remained prominent in the post-WWII era; however, it has remained popular with audiences of all races because it contains powerful themes of family confrontations and discrimination.
Lorraine Hansberry does a phenomenal job in depicting not only the realities that occur because a family gets a large sum of money, but also the consequences it can have on the family’s relationship in her play A Raisin in the Sun. The main conflict in A Raisin in the Sun is the skirmish the Younger family partakes in over how to spend the ten thousand dollars. This conflict lends to its continued popularity because it reflects ordinary people’s desire for money and the confrontations that obtaining money often leads to in real life. In the play, almost every member, including Mama, Ruth, and Walter are headstrong in their decisions for how to most effectively spend the money. The famil…
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Amiri Baraka, ‘A Raisin in the Sun’s’ Enduring Passion, in ‘A Raisin in the Sun’; and The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, by Lorraine Hansberry, edited by Robert Nemiroff, New American Library, 1987, pp. 9-20. Reproduced by permission.
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