A Raisin in the Sun
by Lorraine Hansberry
Analysis: Plot Analysis
Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.
The Youngers, living in the Chicago slums, wait for an important check in the mail.
The play opens with the five members of the Younger family working their butts off, living in a cramped roach-infested apartment, and sharing a bathroom with neighbors across the hall. Although life is less than peachy, they do have hope for change. A very large check is coming in the mail. Until this check comes, however, we’re still stuck in the Initial Situation.
The family disagrees on how to use the money.
Money tends to lead to conflict, doesn’t it? Walter Younger wants to go into business and invest the money in a liquor store, but his mother has her heart set on purchasing a house and getting her family out of their cramped quarters. This leads to several tearful scenes and disagreement, otherwise known as conflict.
Mama buys a house in a white neighborhood and gives the rest of the money to Walter, who promptly loses it.
OK so clearly not everyone gets what they want. That would be known as a Disney movie. In this play, Mama buys a house – but in a white neighborhood that really doesn’t want black neighbors. She expresses her faith in Walter by giving him the rest of the money, but instead of saving some of it like his mother told him to, Walter hands every last dime of it over to a man named Willy, who promptly takes off for destinations unknown. Needless to say, this isn’t a great situation. One might even call it complicated.
Walter concedes to The Man.
When a representative from their new neighborhood comes knocking and offers to buy the family out of their house (and throw in a little extra on top), the family kicks him out. But the climax of the play is when Walter calls the man back in, announcing that he is going to accept the offer. Mama is aghast.
Walter stands in front of Travis as he talks to Karl.
Walter’s drawn-out monologue suggests that his reservations against consenting to the park association are considerable. He wants to be a strong person, but he also wants to right the wrong he did to his family when he lost their money. At the end of it all, Walter must decide what to tell Karl.
Walter tells Karl to piss off.
In his shining moment, Walter tells Karl that the Younger family is a proud family, and that they have no plans to cause trouble when they move into Clybourne Park. The suspense is finally resolved; Travis’s naïve presence jolted Walter into standing up for principle.
The Youngers move out.
A comfortable and loving atmosphere comes to life after Karl leaves. The family instructs the moving men and prepares to start a new chapter of their life.