A Raisin in the Sun. Lorraine Hansberry. New York City, New York: Random House, Inc., 1958. 151 pages.
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The radio is on an oldies station, and today they are playing some great songs! The music starts and You Cant Always Get What You Want by the Rolling Stones comes on. You crank the volume and sing aloud with the wind blowing in your hair down the highway. Ah, you havent heard that one in a while
But wait! Oh yes, Bill Withers with Lean on Me, one of youre all-time favorites. After the song plays through, you turn off the radio and you just know that the songs rings true in everyway. Then you begin to think back to the Rolling Stones and you wonder if its true as well. You need to drive on down to the library and pick up A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. This novel will help you understand the lyrics to those oldies favorites you just listened to.
A Raisin in the Sun intends to give the world an inside look at what life is like for an African American family. The family has dreams and relies on each other to accomplish their goals. This serves as the theme for the entire book. Lorraine Hansberrys novel is interesting and realistic. Teenagers will learn a great deal from this book. Hansberry is able to write with such truths behind her words. Each line of this play is written in dialect that so closely mimics real life you can almost hear the cast as you read. The dialect Hansberry uses assists in accomplishing the task of proving her well thought out themes.
A Raisin in the Sun takes place in an apartment in Chicago. Three generations reside in the two-bedroom apartment. There is Lena Younger or Mama, who holds the family together throughout the whole book. Mamas two children, Beneatha and Walter Lee, live in the apartment with her. Beneatha is young and is going to college to become a doctor. Walter is married to Ruth and they have one son, Travis. Mr. Younger has passed away and the family is awaiting the arrival of the insurance check, which is for ten thousand dollars. Each member of the family dreams of how they would spend the money, but all of them realize that its really up to Mama. But that doesnt stop the children from dreaming of how to spend such a large amount of money. The whole family believes that the money will make their lives easier, but the check brings a tension to the mood as each characters dreams for the money slowly rips the family apart.
A Raisin in the Sun is written in play format. This drama gives an inside look to the vicissitudes of an African American family. Each character is described in detail, which allows the reader to picture the play happening in the stage of their mind. Lorraine Hansberry has provided the perfect view to this familys lifestyle. The dialect that the family uses is very simple and ungrammatical. This makes the tale seem realistic, and almost factual. The dialect that is used needs to be spoken to get the true effect of the text. Its so real that it needs to be heard, not just read. Thus, A Raisin in the Sun works terrifically as a play, because the reader is able to hear, see and experience each movement and word.
There is a great deal to be gleaned from A Raisin in the Sun. The thing that I liked most about this play was how each member of the family all had a dream. Each person had a want that they wished to come true and that they never abandoned. Hansberry shows how important following your dreams is by making sure that each character never gave up. Mama wanted a new house, and even though she knew that Walter wanted to start a liquor store, and that Beneatha needed money for school, she followed through with her wish. She bought the house, despite the wishes of the others. This shows great character in a person, because Mama gave the left over money to Walter and Beneatha, and still got her house. Hansberry made sure that each person got a fair chance at his or her dream in this story.
Another huge point from A Raisin in the Sun is the significance of family. The play is basically a chain of events from one member of the family to the other. Such as, Walter dreamed of starting a new store to provide better for his family, Mama had the money that he needed to get the store started, but Mama got the money due to the death of Walters father. The theme of family ties in very well with the theme of following your dreams, because without the support of family, then it is very difficult for one to accomplish their dreams. Hansberry interpretation of this is phenomenal. She lets dreams stack up like a line of dominos and when a section of the line topples, someone was there to help rebuild and start all over.
This book reminded me of Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. Willy Loman, the main character in Death of a Salesman, is a dreamer. Both books are similar because they both deal with the American dream. Death of a Salesman is also a play, but based on a white suburban family. A Raisin in the Sun proves how difficult the world is for African Americans. There were three generations living in a two bedroom apartment, whereas in Death of a Salesman the family had a home, which their grown children had moved out of years before. It is enlightening to see the same dreams from two different perspectives. Willy never did accomplish his dreams, but he seemed to live a better life than the Youngers. However the Youngers were able to reach their goals as a team. I think that comparing these books makes all stereotypes simply stereotypes for it would seem that the Younger family would have been the defeated. But it goes to show that anyone can make it if the desire is strong enough.
Hansberry does a fantastic job in setting the world straight on stereotypes, giving them hope to fulfill their dreams and a strong sense of being in A Raisin in the Sun. I really liked how Mama was the driving force behind the family, because thats how most families are. I cant think of one thing that I didnt like about this play. The plot is great and the themes are so true. I would recommend this book to big dreamers. For those people who set high goals and dream of the day their goals are accomplished. I think they will have newfound strength from the characters Hansberry has provided and their dreams may expand and still seem obtainable.
Together, the Younger family never gave up on their dreams. They did it because they had each other. I am a huge dreamer; I set all of my goals and usually make it to the desired task. However, I know that the things I have accomplished would have been virtually impossible without the support I get from my family and friends. The Rolling Stones told you that you cant always get what you want, but with somebody to lean on I believe anything is possible.
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