A Raisin in the Sun

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 LiteratureAll American Literature
AuthorHansberry - Lorraine Hansberry
FormPlay
LanguageEnglish Language
Literary FormsPlays
LiteratureAmerican Literature
Post-1945 Literature
ThemesChoices
Dissatisfaction
Dreams, Hopes, and Plans
Family
Gender
Poverty
Pride
Race
Sacrifice
Suffering
The Home

Transcript

00:10

But no matter how horrific the other person's problems are, we secretly know that ours are

00:10

way worse. The Younger family in Lorraine Hansberry's

00:12

A Raisin in the Sun has plenty to complain about. Hard-working Mama is getting a huge

00:20

insurance check... awesome, right?

00:23

Unfortunately, everybody wants a piece of it.

00:26

Walter grabs the cash for himself, and loses it all, ruining the family's dreams of an

00:33

easier life.

00:35

If you can stand more bad news, that money was Beneatha's<<buh-neath-uh>> best chance

00:39

at paying for med school.

00:40

In fact, all three of these Youngers would feel at home on the cast of Les Mis, singing

00:40

"life has killed the dream I dreamed."

00:41

So who wins the Golden Hankie Award for the biggest sob story? Whose plump juicy dream

00:46

most resembles Langston Hughes'… shriveled raisin?

00:50

Beneatha's our first contender, and she's the obvious choice, here. Her friend calls

00:54

her “Alaiyo” <Ah-lie-yo>, meaning “one for whom bread is not enough.” No, he’s not

01:04

saying she’s not a carb addict. …

01:06

Beneatha’s got a fiery “take no prisoners” attitude, and she’s out to change the world

01:12

using medicine and social justice. She even cuts her hair to get back to her African roots…no

01:15

pun intended.

01:15

Mama was going to put away a nice chunk o’ change to give pay for Beneatha’s tuition,

01:20

which would have given her a leg up on fulfilling her goals.

01:23

When the family learns that Walter’s no-good buddy ran off with her college fund, Beneatha

01:31

feels like an idiot for believing she could make a difference.

01:34

Then there’s Walter, the man with a plan. He’s got a hot tip for a liquor store business

01:40

that’s going to break the Youngers out of poverty, and let him quit his job as a chauffeur

01:44

for a rich white man.

01:46

His optimism blinds him to the flaws in this get-rich-quick scheme, and to the dirty looks

01:47

coming from Mama and Ruth.

01:47

Most of all, Walter wants respect. He dreams of owning a successful business which will

01:48

give him equal standing with “The Man,” and snooty college kids like Beneatha’s

01:50

suitor, George.

01:50

What better way to prove all the haters wrong than with a stack of cold, hard cash?

01:54

But then Walter makes the not-too-smart decision to trust his money to a guy named “Willy.”

01:59

Sure, we all saw that epic fail coming, but Walter didn’t—and now his whole family

02:03

is treating him like he’s slime mold. Good luck with that respect thing, Walt…

02:10

You know that saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”?

02:14

With Mama Younger, it’s more the opposite…her contentment depends on the well-being of her

02:19

loved ones.

02:20

She supports Beneatha’s career, even though she doubts she’ll stick with it, and believes

02:22

that Walter is destined to become more than a white man’s employee.

02:26

She’s such a cool mom, she even buys her peeps a house.

02:29

Mama hopes that joining the Homeowners Club will start a legacy of prosperity for the

02:36

entire Younger clan, especially her grandson, Travis.

02:39

Her husband literally died so that this dream could become a reality…it’s his life insurance

02:45

money that’s put the Youngers on Easy Street.

02:47

Too bad her kids are so bratty. Walter sulks about money she spends, and Beneatha pokes

02:53

fun at Mama’s religious beliefs and beloved plant. …

02:53

…When she finally trusts her son to do the right thing, he betrays her. No wonder she

02:54

resorts to physical violence as a parenting method.

02:55

So who’s the winner of the “Dream Deferment” title?

02:56

Do Beneatha’s career goals and social conscience give her the edge?

02:57

Is Walter permanently grounded for losing the money and his shot at being an entrepreneur?

03:01

Or is Mama the most deserving of sympathy, for putting up with her kids and vanishing

03:06

cash? Shmoop amongst yourselves.