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A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

A Raisin in the Sun (1959)

by Lorraine Hansberry (Author)

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Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Well, I can honestly say that I enjoyed the book tremendously!

My favorite version of the play was with Sidney Poitier, so, while reading, that's the cast I kept picturing (as I could best remember them all).

Throughout the play, and the book, the one person that really agitated me most, was Walter Lee. In the first two acts, Walter Lee was bothersome, annoying, just plain disrespectful and stupid. But by act three, he totally redeemed himself and proved that he is the wonderful, father, son, and brother you had hoped him to be.

My favorite character of the whole book and play has always been Mama. Her wisdom, her love and her working so hard to keep the family together and happy. I adore that about her.

I liked Ruth because she stuck by Walter Lee through everything..even when he was being the jerk. She loved him and you knew it, even in her disappointment.

I liked Beneatha, she was smart and always thinking. She could be a bit preachy sometimes but I think many times, she meant well. She stood up to her brother and was just as stubborn and bullheaded as he was. And I liked that she thought for herself during a time that it was thought that women should just get married, have babies and do "woman's work"..She tried to step outside that box and do her own thing!

This will be a book that will be bought and put on my bookshelf as soon as possible and one classic that I will always love!

As I was typing my initial review, and got to my last few words, my Kindle shuts down...It was so much better written than what I can do now because I was going by how I felt then and once it was done, I had forgotten a lot of what I said...Sigh
( )
  BridgetsBookNook | Feb 6, 2014 |
A play about a black family that has gotten a windfall from insurance following the father's death. Trying to determine the best way to use it to give their family a better future nearly tears the family apart. Longstanding resentment comes to the forefront between the sister in college and the brother who works as a chauffeur; a new baby adds complications. When the mother decides to purchase a house, they are visited by a man who doesn't want a black family moving into their all white neighborhood. A powerful, moving work that combines feminism, freethought, and family dynamics with the issue of racism and poverty. ( )
  quantum_flapdoodle | Oct 19, 2013 |
Gripping tale that's a classic with timeless importance. ( )
  lhlogan1 | Aug 7, 2013 |
I somehow missed this in my high school formation and had never heard of it until I got to North Carolina, where it's a mandatory piece of the 9th grade curriculum. After reading it I'm glad to say I can understand why it's considered so important here. It's a powerful examination of hope, dreams, integrity, racism, desegregation and selling out, and it is both insightful and accessible. These themes are particularly pertinent to younger readers as they begin to confront the reality of having to reconcile their own dreams with commercial and social necessities.

There are so many important points made in various characters' speeches that you could spend hours deconstructing them all and develop each one into its own thematic work. The minor character Asagai in particular has extremely rich dialogue, on par with the other major philosopher of the play, "Mama" Lena Younger. It's an all around terrific work and I recommend reading it in conjunction with the Danny Glover stage adaptation from the 80s.

My only minor issue with it comes at the very end, when Mama explicitly spells out how Walter "come into manhood." It would have been perfect just leaving it unsaid. Additionally, the structure of the play is somewhat cumbersome, with many of the scenes being quite long and encompassing many different interactions with a revolving cast of characters. At least the book would have benefited from having more scene separations. ( )
  blake.rosser | Jul 28, 2013 |
While I am almost certain that I have read this as a long ago youth, I am definitely certain that I now have more context, history, and maturity to appreciate this wonderfully illustrative play. Set in the ‘sometime between WWII and the present (=1959), Ms. Hansberry brings us on a journey of a few weeks of the Younger family where we learn about their dreams, how reality has altered such dreams, and the path this family chooses as a result. Dreams – the constant theme of this book. But it doesn’t end there –racism, abortion, colonialism in Africa, prejudice of not just white vs. blacks but also blacks vs. blacks – heavy subjects that are smartly addressed.

I find in Mama – the matriarch – the voice of reason, inner strength, an acceptance of life as is given to her, but also a continued resolve to make the most of life and circumstances. Her values of God and familial respect guide her decisions as she continues to hold her family together in a tiny two bedroom apartment that had been her rented home since her first days of marriage. “Hadn’t been married but two weeks and wasn’t planning on living here no more than a year. (She shakes her head at the dissolved dream)”

Mama’s son, Walter, is a walking angry-sac of dissatisfaction, disappointment, and disillusionment with life. As a chauffeur driving a rich (white) man’s limo, he sees too much riches that he doesn’t have, can’t have, but wants so badly to have, that it brings him much unwarranted frustrations. “I want so many things that they are driving me kind of crazy… Mama – look at me….. 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.”

Walter’s wife, Ruth, 30, described as “she was a pretty girl, even exceptional so, but now it is apparent that life has been little that she expected, and disappointment has already begun to hang in her face.” loves her husband but is tired of his antics, drinking, lofty unattainable dreams, and most importantly feeling they have grown apart, so much so that she was deciding to do the unthinkable.

Mama’s daughter, Beneatha, is the most book smart of the family with aspirations of becoming a doctor, a ‘modern’ idea that is mocked by her brother, Walter, who tells her to be a nurse instead. Her modern viewpoints also excludes the belief in God which infuriates her mama. “It’s just that I get tired of Him getting credit for all the things the human race achieves through its own stubborn effort. There simply is no blasted God – there is only man and it is he who makes miracles!”

Along with a handful of other cast members and $10,000 of insurance money from the death of the father, “a fine man who could never catch up to his dreams”, the Younger family rides the emotional roller coaster. Through the tribulations, a man comes to his manhood, “kind of like a rainbow after the rain.”

A fine, fine play that must be read, I particularly enjoyed the stage setting the Ms. Hansberry wrote. Entirely graphic, moving, descriptive – written in an elegant classic English. At the same time, she commanded the speech of the black family of the time. The words and style are alive and vibrant, as though these spoken words can be heard in my mind.

When released in 1959, this play made Lorraine Hansberry, at age 25, a most celebrated playwright of the time. She brought to the American theater for the first time ever, the most truth about the lives of the black people. Sadly, she was taken from us on January 12, 1965, at the age of 34 due to cancer. If you’re buying this book for the first time, be sure to acquire the full uncut version. (The original theatrical release had scenes and a character removed.)

I ask you – Who amongst us have not had a dream shattered?

A few more quotes:

Act 1, Scene One opener paints this picture:
“…..A time probably no longer remembered by the family (except perhaps for Mama), the furnishings of this room were actually selected with care and love and even hope – and brought to this apartment and arranged with taste and pride. That was a long time ago. Now the once loved pattern of the couch upholstery has to fight to show itself from under acres of crocheted doilies and couch covers…. Weariness has, in fact, won this room. Everything has been polished, washed, sat on, used, scrubbed too often. All pretenses but living itself have long since vanished from the very atmosphere of this room.”

From Mama, on the struggles of her generation:
“…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.”

From Walter, on men and women:
“That’s it. There you are. Man say to his woman: I got me a dream. His woman say: Eat your eggs. Man say: I got to take hold of this here world, baby! And a woman will say: Eat your eggs and go to work. Man say: I got to change my life, I’m choking to death, baby! And his woman say – Your eggs is getting cold!”

From Mama, on love:
“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.”

Last and certainly not least, the poem that inspired the title of this play, by none other than 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? ( )
2 vote varwenea | Jul 13, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hansberry, LorraineAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gresham, JoiForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kutsch, ArthurEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nemiroff, RobertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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?
To Mama: In gratitude for the dream
First words
The Younger living room would be a comfortable and well-ordered room if it were not for a number of indestructible contradictions to this state of being.
And we have decided to move into our hous- because my father -my father-he earned it for us brick by brick . . . we don't want to make no trouble for nobody or fight no causes, and we will try to be good neighbors. And that's all we got to say about that. . . . We don't want your money.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679755330, Mass Market Paperback)

This groundbreaking play starred Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeill, Ruby Dee and Diana Sands in the Broadway production which opened in 1959. Set on Chicago's South Side, the plot revolves around the divergent dreams and conflicts within three generations of the Younger family: son Walter Lee, his wife Ruth, his sister Beneatha, his son Travis and matriarch Lena, called Mama. When her deceased husband's insurance money comes through, Mama dreams of moving to a new home and a better neighborhood in Chicago. Walter Lee, a chauffeur, has other plans, however: buying a liquor store and being his own man. Beneatha dreams of medical school.

The tensions and prejudice they face form this seminal American drama. Sacrifice, trust and love among the Younger family and their heroic struggle to retain dignity in a harsh and changing world is a searing and timeless document of hope and inspiration. Winner of the NY Drama Critic's Award as Best Play of the Year, it has been hailed as a "pivotal play in the history of the American Black theatre." by Newsweek and "a milestone in the American Theatre." by Ebony.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:44:43 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

When it was first produced in 1959, A Raisin in the Sun was awarded the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for that season and hailed as a watershed in American drama. A pioneering work by an African-American playwright, the play was a radically new representation of black life. "A play that changed American theater forever."… (more)

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