This video summarizes the play A Raisin in the Sun. It discusses the Youngers, members of an African-American family trying to better themselves when they come into some money. It discusses race, family relationships, and money management.
|American Literature||All American Literature|
|Author||Hansberry - Lorraine Hansberry|
Dreams, Hopes, and Plans
But no matter how horrific the other person's problems are, we secretly know that ours are
way worse. The Younger family in Lorraine Hansberry's
A Raisin in the Sun has plenty to complain about. Hard-working Mama is getting a huge
insurance check... awesome, right?
Unfortunately, everybody wants a piece of it.
Walter grabs the cash for himself, and loses it all, ruining the family's dreams of an
If you can stand more bad news, that money was Beneatha's<<buh-neath-uh>> best chance
at paying for med school.
In fact, all three of these Youngers would feel at home on the cast of Les Mis, singing
"life has killed the dream I dreamed."
So who wins the Golden Hankie Award for the biggest sob story? Whose plump juicy dream
most resembles Langston Hughes'… shriveled raisin?
Beneatha's our first contender, and she's the obvious choice, here. Her friend calls
her “Alaiyo” <Ah-lie-yo>, meaning “one for whom bread is not enough.” No, he’s not
saying she’s not a carb addict. …
Beneatha’s got a fiery “take no prisoners” attitude, and she’s out to change the world
using medicine and social justice. She even cuts her hair to get back to her African roots…no
Mama was going to put away a nice chunk o’ change to give pay for Beneatha’s tuition,
which would have given her a leg up on fulfilling her goals.
When the family learns that Walter’s no-good buddy ran off with her college fund, Beneatha
feels like an idiot for believing she could make a difference.
Then there’s Walter, the man with a plan. He’s got a hot tip for a liquor store business
that’s going to break the Youngers out of poverty, and let him quit his job as a chauffeur
for a rich white man.
His optimism blinds him to the flaws in this get-rich-quick scheme, and to the dirty looks
coming from Mama and Ruth.
Most of all, Walter wants respect. He dreams of owning a successful business which will
give him equal standing with “The Man,” and snooty college kids like Beneatha’s
What better way to prove all the haters wrong than with a stack of cold, hard cash?
But then Walter makes the not-too-smart decision to trust his money to a guy named “Willy.”
Sure, we all saw that epic fail coming, but Walter didn’t—and now his whole family
is treating him like he’s slime mold. Good luck with that respect thing, Walt…
You know that saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”?
With Mama Younger, it’s more the opposite…her contentment depends on the well-being of her
She supports Beneatha’s career, even though she doubts she’ll stick with it, and believes
that Walter is destined to become more than a white man’s employee.
She’s such a cool mom, she even buys her peeps a house.
Mama hopes that joining the Homeowners Club will start a legacy of prosperity for the
entire Younger clan, especially her grandson, Travis.
Her husband literally died so that this dream could become a reality…it’s his life insurance
money that’s put the Youngers on Easy Street.
Too bad her kids are so bratty. Walter sulks about money she spends, and Beneatha pokes
fun at Mama’s religious beliefs and beloved plant. …
…When she finally trusts her son to do the right thing, he betrays her. No wonder she
resorts to physical violence as a parenting method.
So who’s the winner of the “Dream Deferment” title?
Do Beneatha’s career goals and social conscience give her the edge?
Is Walter permanently grounded for losing the money and his shot at being an entrepreneur?
Or is Mama the most deserving of sympathy, for putting up with her kids and vanishing
cash? Shmoop amongst yourselves.