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A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

A Raisin in the Sun (1959)

by Lorraine Hansberry

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A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry Despite that this is a classic that would have been relevant in almost any American Lit class, of which I've been in several between high school and getting an English degree, it only hit my radar on account of Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home. That book talks about this play, and it's point on the commentary produced about the play is best summed by this quote:

Audiences easily grasp A Raisin in the Sun’s statement about the relationship between blacks and whites and their battle over space. However, little attention is paid to its clear statement about women’s roles in the struggle for equality.

Personally,  I would urge any new readers to remember to think of this as they read it. I certainly had both running through my head, and they are distinct within the play. They are woven together brilliantly. The differences in the generational aspirations also provide tension and remind the reader that the black community in America has endured a lot and that each generation had set an entirely different goal towards equality to achieve. Though I am not black, I can relate a bit to those generational differences. I only realized recently how much of my indepedence I've taken for granted that have come from having access to the pill. Just because I have access, that doesn't mean that fight is over, other women still don't. Also, I still don't have absolute equality and women are overall still in a larger struggle. I feel like the story of the play sits in a similar place. The children grew up with things that the parents didn't have and couldn't grasp their parents aspirations. But the children know that there is still so much further to go and the parents are tired and happier with what they've achieved than the children can realize. And on and on it goes for all our intersections. The women of this play still have more battles to wage on multiples fronts. 
I enjoyed reading the play for all these reasons and that it was genuinely entertaining. I love Ruth and Mama and their relationship. I don't find that kind of relationship with in-laws in much literature or in talking to many people, and I hope it's not lost.  ( )
  Calavari | Sep 28, 2016 |
Yet again another classic that I have never read or even seen. This one is pretty shameful, I've heard nothing but praise for this play and after reading it I can certainly see why. I definitely need to see it as well now. This play brings to life a young black husband and his family as they try to improve their living situation. It's honest, humanizing, and soulful; it explores the trials and tribulations of a black family in Chicago. Even though this play came out over five decades ago it's still holds true and remains relatable. The human dream of improving one's life is the American story and this play beautifully captures that. A wonderful read. ( )
  ecataldi | Sep 15, 2016 |
A play about the hope of the American Dream, race relations, and family, A Raisin in the Sun is a touching tribute to the African-American working class experience. The Youngers are faced with a difficult situation after the passing of the family patriarch and the insurance money he has left behind. Walter, Ruth, Beneatha, Mama and the other characters are well developed and incredibly memorable. You feel for their struggle but have hope for their future. Absolute classic. ( )
  trile1000 | Aug 29, 2016 |
I will start by saying that I don’t generally enjoy reading plays – I prefer to see them performed – but this play, is extraordinary. I highly recommend reading it, if a live theater performance isn’t available.

The play was first produced on Broadway in 1959. The title comes from a poem by Langston Hughes, Harlem (or A Dream Deferred). The drama concerns the lives of an African American family living in an apartment on Chicago’s Southside, sometime between WWII and the mid-1950s. The Younger family consists of Mama, her two adult children (Beneatha and Walter Lee), her daughter-in-law Ruth, and her grandson Travis. They struggle to make do in crowded conditions, Travis having to sleep on the living room sofa. As the play opens the family is anxiously awaiting a check for $10,000 – the life insurance payment following the death of their husband/father/grandfather. Each of them has dreams of what s/he will do with that money. Those competing dreams form the central conflict.

The play is a product of its time, but has some themes that still ring true today. While there are no longer covenants excluding one racial group from housing in a particular neighborhood (or at least they are no longer enforceable), there is still evidence of racial stereotyping and prejudice. The themes of conflicting dreams and finding one’s moral compass are universal. As the characters traverse the path from despair to triumph (and the many points in between), they touch my own soul, causing me to examine my own dreams – both realized and deferred. ( )
  BookConcierge | Jun 14, 2016 |
  MrsDoglvrs | Apr 24, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hansberry, Lorraineprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davis, OssieReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dee, RubyReadersecondary authorsome 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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:52 -0400)

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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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