A Raisin in the Sun
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon September 16, 2001
"A Raisin in the Sun," the play by Lorraine Hansberry, was produced in New York City in 1959. Hansberry creates the story of the Youngers, a struggling African-American family whose members deal with poverty, racism, and painful conflict among themselves as they reach for a better life. The Youngers are, in my opinion, one of the most unforgettable families in United States literature. Hansberry balances grim drama, comic moments, and redemptive love as the play unfolds.
Although a few of the characters may seem a bit stereotypical, the play strikes me as surprisingly fresh after all these decades. It is also fascinating to hear the voices of three generations of a single family in this play. Ultimately, "Raisin" is a celebration of struggle, pride, and hope, in addition to being a historically important indictment of mid-20th century racism. This is essential reading for anybody with a serious interest in United States drama or African-American literature.
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74 of 84 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2000
Recently, in my eighth grade English class, we read To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. During our study of the 1930's in Alabama we were assigned to read another book by an African American author. I chose A Raisin the Sun because my mom recommended it. Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun written in 1959 is an intriguing, must read play. This play shows the strength of an African-American family's values and ability to stick together. They face many hard things that shock the reader and the audience including an accidental pregnancy. They battle against harsh prejudice and a system that attempts to keep them from having good opportunities to improve their life. Hansberry does a good job of intertwining family hardships with the individuality of each character. She develops each character personally and carries on his or her traits through out the entire book. The attitude she takes towards the great struggles of a Chicago family, Walter, Ruth, Mama, Beneatha and Travis Younger is convincing because of her tone and description. She shows that life for an African American person at this time is difficult and full of obstacles more challenging than the ones that white people faced. Although A Raisin in the Sun takes place 29 years after To Kill a Mockingbird, African American people are still treated with no respect and are limited in their rights. Both stories constantly demolish African-American families' dreams. Hansberry illustrates through her tone that the family life is rough and the Youngers' are eager for a big change. This action in the plot causes excitement and suspense. As a reader I constantly want the Younger family to over come their challenges and do well in the future. In the same way, In To Kill A Mockingbird I was always hoping that Tom Robinson would be freed. Although there are similarities in the way black people are treated in both books, Lorraine Hansberry as a black author develops her black characters more thoroughly than Harper Lee. Lorraine Hansberry leaves her white characters to roles that are minor. I like this play because it is realistic and shows how strong a family bond is no matter what comes between them. She really showed how the Youngers' were struggling financially but still managed to succeeded all of the obstacles in their way.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2000
The play, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry was awonderful piece of writing. I'm a fourteen year old and I thinkthat the book is good for most ages but you need to be at least 12 to fully understand it. I read this book while reading To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. It was interesting to read those books at the same time to see the points of view of racism of both sides. I noticed something very similar in both books. The Black people are always very welcoming and polite to the white people. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Tom Robinson was always willing to help Mayella Ewell with chores. In A Raisin in the Sun, when the man came from the welcoming committee, they were very polite to him and invited him into their home. Little did they know that they would be rejected even though they were very courteous. That happened in both books. In A Raisin in the Sun, it seemed like their race was holding them back from accomplishing their dreams. When Mama bought the house for her family, they were all brutally rejected by the community. This upset the family very much. Walter says, "Maybe---maybe I'll just get down on my black knees,Captain Mistuh, Bossman. A-hee-hee-hee! Yasssuh! Great White Father, just gi' ussen de money, fo' God's sake, and we's ain't gwine come out deh and dirty up yo' white folks neighborhood..." When he says this it is a very dramatic part of the play. It shows how white people are controlling so much that goes on. They can't live in a house they want to live in. It seems like the white people are perceived as some kind of royalty in the book. Like queens and kings, they are not anything special but were just born into the "right" family. Unlike royalty, it's not the name they inherit but the color of their skin. I think this book was a great book to read. It showed me that in America you didn't always have a fair chance and social mobility used to be a lost cause for African-Americans. All of the people who lived in that crummy apartment had a dream but because of their skin color, their dreams were shattered. Either they wouldn't be taken seriously, or not welcomed, or given no choice but to take a low paying job doing unskilled things. I thought it was a great book because it was so realistic. There was suspense and most of all it was a book that really made me think.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Produced in 1959, A RAISIN IN THE SUN was the first Broadway play written by a black woman: Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965), a memorable author who based the central story on an incident that occurred in her own family and which eventually evolved into a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 1940 as Hansberry v. Lee.

The play presents us with three generations of the Younger family: the widowed matriarch Lena; her son Walter Lee and daughter Beaneatha; and Walter's wife Ruth and their son Travis. The family resides in a semi-slum apartment building on the south side of Chicago in the 1950s, where each tries to rise above the difficulties of their enviroment and the many social limitations imposed upon African-Americans at that time. But there is hope on the horizon: Lena is about to receive insurance money from her husband's death.

Unfortunately, instead of pulling the family together, the money actually drives them apart. Each member lays claim to it in some form or fashion. Lena dreams of owning her own home; daughter Bea is attending medical school and needs money to finish her degree; and most especially Walter Lee dreams of owning a liquior store. Bit by bit the pressure chips away at the family, already strained by years of frustration, and explodes at the play's climax--although not precisely in a way that one might foresee. When the explosion arrives it does not shatter the family; it unexpectedly reaffirms it.

When I review a play, I like point out that plays are not really intended to be read. They are intended to be seen on stage, where performing artists and designers breathe life into the lines and bring force to the story and its themes. This is true of every play. It may be especially true of A Raisin In The Sun, which on paper feels somewhat dry and slightly preachy. But I have seen the play performed--and let me assure that you that it brings the audience to hysterical laughter, painful tears, a sense of deep outrage, and an affection for its characters that few other modern plays can match. It is indeed a brilliant work and a great classic of 20th century American theatre.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2001
By fruitfully symbolizing the objects in the Younger's living room and Mama's plant, Hansberry effectively exposes an African-American family's plight to triumph over racial prejudice and reach its ultimate dream: to own a house with a garden. The play begins by describing the setting of the tattered furniture and diminutive window, both symbolizing the Younger family and their sticky situation. The furniture's arrangement displays a since of "taste and pride", which the Younger family embodies. Although the furniture and the Younger family reveal pride, both "are tired". The description of the furniture clearly depicts the Younger family's ray of pride, and their exhaustion of "accommodating the living of too many people for too many years". Walter Younger chauffeurs a rich white man, resenting the fact that he, like the furniture, lived too long accommodating people when he could be fulfilling his own dream to own a business. Also, the soul window in the Younger's family represents their entrapment. The lack of natural light contributes to the Younger's feeling of despair. The thin beam of light that "fights its way" through the window illustrates a gleam of hope for the Younger's dream. Premonitions of hope, seen through the trickle of light from the window, prophesizes the possibility of the Youngers ability to achieve their goal. Mama's scrawny plant also represents the Younger family. Mama exclaims that if the "little old plant" never sees sunlight, it will not see spring again. Like the plant, the Youngers need light or hope to live. Both the plant and the Youngers experience darkness when living in the tight apartment. When the plant begins to fall apart, the Youngers undergo tribulation. The plant that "ain't never had no sunshine or nothing" applies also to the Younger family not having any hope or anything at all. As Mama fixes the plant so it will not get hurt along the way to the new house, Mama states that it expresses her. Mama, the matriarch of the family, strives to protect the family, which the plant symbolizes. The plant expresses her because it shows the family's fortitude to stay alive, even though faced with problems such as lack of sunlight. At the very end of the play, Mama does not fail to forget the plant, which shows the importance of the family, unified by overcoming obstacles of racial oppression. Now the plant can live in a garden filled with sunlight and the Youngers can live their dream.
Hansberry represents the Youngers through the setting and Mama's plant and shows how these entities correlate with the Younger's achievement of surpassing racial friction and obtaining the American dream.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2000
A Raisin in the Sun, written by Lorraine Hansberry ,is by far one of the best books have read yet. The setting is in the mid-1900's in the Southside of Chicago. The main focus of this book occurs around a poor black family in a poor black community, the Younger's. Hansberry does a great job of using dialect to make the scenes quite realistic and uses quite a bit of symbolism, irony, motifs, and situations that involve making decisions where you become stuck between a rock and a hard place. The book starts off with Walter Younger's obsession with his mother's insurance check so he can become a true entrepeneur and invest in his own liquor store. Since religion played a vital role in Mama's reaction to this sinful act it really damaged Walter's hopes and dreams. Later in the book Mama finally decides to give Walter the money and leaves him with the responsibility of taking care of the family, this is where the rising action begins. Then the climax hits when Walter finds out that the money he gave to his partner is gone. This leaves Walter and the rest of the family in a sudden feeling of disillusionment. Then as things cool down Walter and the rest of the family decide to go ahead and move into the all white neighborhood. The rest of the story is jam packed with racial, religious, economic, and even feministical motifs that aid in the release of all the true tensions in the novel, between characters, which Hansberry purposely relates to the reality of the way society really is. Her purpose for writing this book was to show the way society worked and to make it apparent how hard life was for a poor black family. Overall I really enjoyed this book. It had alot of realistic elements , enough to make the reader stay interested and more. The plot is dramatic and ends ironically. I gave this book 4 stars because it had all the elements of a good book it just did not have the ending I was expecting. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a easy reading book that contains alot of real life situations and the struggle of a poor black family just trying to "move on up", just like the Jefferson's just without all the funny jokes.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2000
This book outlines a colorful premise on the life of an African American family and describes their fight for their dreams.Schools have been using this play to get students reading and give them different perpectives.I think this book is for all.Some language...but it's not like no one has heard any badmouthing anyway.I think that it is just a really really really good play too and that Lorraine Hansberry did a good job just weaving everything together.You can really relate to this story with the dilemmas and questions it rises.And it's not like anything of a complicated story either, you can really decipher it.And last I believe the author wrote from her heart, exprssing herself through her work majestically.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2002
The book "A Rasin in the Sun" deals with a lot of conflicts including money, racism, love, and trust. The story is about the Youngers, a black family living on the South Side of Chicago. It details the family's different views on what should be done with the ten thousand dollar check. The character Mama wants to buy a house. Her son Walter Lee wants to open a liquor store, and the daughter Beneatha wants to finish her schooling. In each scene, a character is faced with a different decision. The story is written as a play. I personally thought "A Rasin in the Sun" was on okay book, and I would tell anybody who loves to read plays to read this story.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 1999
I read this play as a required reading book for my 10th-grade English class. Boring, right? WRONG! I found the story to be inspiring and emotional, and the characters realistic, multi-faceted and down-to-earth. Beneatha's loftiness, spontaneity and charming flightiness reminded me very much of my younger sister, which enhanced the realism of the book. The character of Mama was someone I would have liked to meet in real life; simple and ignorant but conventionally wise and hardworking. The story dealt with both the characters' internal and external conflicts, conflicts with money, lovers and family, which in my mind made it very interesting reading. The author writes with passionate but realistic emotion and the problems of the Younger family could easily have struck a lower middle class black family in the 1940's. A definite must-read!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2000
I LOVED this play. It's characters we're brilliantly created. My favorite was by far Beneatha. This play demands emotional involvement. You can't help feeling depressed for the plight of the family because the characters are so REAL! Of all the plays we've read in my AP English class this is by far the best. It seemed very Shakespearian (another timeless playwrite) in its excellent characterization, wittisisms, and shifts between funny and tragic scenes. I'm glad the family was victorious in the end because I didn't want to go to sleep depressed (and I would have been, the book is THAT good). Lorraine Hansbury has earned every star with this play.
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