The author tells his reader about the life of a poor African American family in the 1950s. This family consists of five people who live in a small and ruined building. When Mama’s husband dies, the family is provided with an insurance check for $10,000 dollars. Each family member has his own thoughts on how to spend money. The Mama wants to move into a big house in the white neighborhood of the middle class and part of the money left for study for her daughter.
The son wants to invest this money in business by creating a liquor store. As a result, money is used to pay a house for a dream, and the remaining amount is given to the son. Although in fact, they are worried about what kind of life awaits them in the white neighborhood. Despite the fact that Mama was against the liquor store, the son secretly invests his money in this business. He is desperately trying to increase this amount fourfold, but in the end, the money burns out. The household decides to move to the white neighborhood, despite their financial difficulties and the fact that their neighbors will not be happy about it.
A Raisin In The Sun Summary
Describe the apartment and its furnishings in Act I.
The apartment is a small cramped space, and its furnishings are worn and torn, due to the age. There are two families right across from each other in a Jack and Jill fashion, (they have to share a bathroom).
What details of the setting show that the apartment is crowded?
The way the author describes the way all of them woke up in the morning. (Mama and Beneatha in one bedroom, Walter and Ruth in another, and Travis on the couch). The author also describes how the two families share a bathroom
Walter’s wife, Ruth, is described as a “pretty girl,” who is changing into a “settled woman.” What has happened to change Ruth’s beauty?
The stress of living in poverty has changed her natural beauty into older, and more weary looks.
How does the apartment building itself create problems for the Younger family as they begin the day?
They can’t get into the bathroom to get ready, and in turn, they become irritable
When Walter comes into the living room, what thoughts are on his mind? What does he ask Ruth?
When Walter walks into the living room, he’s thinking about the business deal with Bobo and Willy. He asks Ruth where the paper is.
When is the check coming?
Walter tells Ruth that she looks young this morning and calls her “baby.” What do his remarks and Ruth’s responses reveal about their relationship?
He’s trying to be loving, but Ruth is trying to make sure that everybody’s ready.
Walter’s son, Travis, comes out of the bathroom, what does he ask?
Travis asks for fift cents to take to school
Walter and Ruth react differently when Travis asks for money for school. What are Walter’s and Ruth’s attitudes about money?
Ruth is practical about money, since they are poor, and Walter just gives Travis $1.00
Ruth tells Walter she doesn’t want to know what he has been thinking about? Why? What has Walter been thinking about?
Walter has been thinking of the liquor store and the check. Ruth knows that it’s a bad investment, and that Willy Harris is a bad man.
How does Walter think women should treat their men?
Walter thinks women should support their husbands.
How does Ruth react to Walter’s desire for her support?
“EAT YOUR EGGS.” She’s tired of it
Describe the immediate exchange of words between Walter and his sister, Beneatha, when comes into the living room
They teased each other
What are Beneatha’s hopes for her own future?
Beneatha wants to be a doctor and go to Africa with Asagai to help children.
What sacrifices does Walter say have been made for Beneatha’s sake? How does Beneatha react when she hears this? How does their conversation end?
They’ve been helping Beneatha financially. She becomes hostile towards Walter, and the conversation ends when Beneatha mocks Walter and he storms out of the apartment.
Why does Walter return to the apartment? What does he do?
Because he needs carfare (cash). He leaves.
What does Mama retrieve when she opens the window? What is unique about this object?
She retrieves the plant, and it’s a unique object because it represents Lena’s dream of one having a house and a garden where she can grow flowers.
In conversations with Ruth and Beneatha in this scene, Mama’s values become clearer. How does Mama feel about money?
Mama wants to use the money to improve the conditions for her family.
What kind of man was Big Walter? Why does Mama claim he worked himself to death?
Big Walter was a hard-working, devoted family man. He loved his children. Mama claimed that he worked himself to death because he wanted to get the family out of the situation that they were in.
How much does Mama value religion? How does she react to Beneatha’s denial of God?
Mama considered her faith to be the bedrock of her life. Mama slapped Beneatha after she claimed that she didn’t believe in God.
Mama compares her plant to her children. How are the plant and the children alike?What does the plant symbolize to Mama?
Both are striving, and struggling, and they also have “spunk.” It symbolizes her love for her children.
Act I, Scene II
Act I, Scene II
When does Scene ii begin? What are Mama and Beneatha doing as the scene begins?
Mama and Beneatha were cleaning the apartment
Who does Beneatha invite to the apartment? How does she tell Mama to act around this person?
Beneatha invites Asagai to the apartment; she tells Mama not to ask ignorant questions about Africa.
What is revealed about Ruth and where she has been? What is she considering? Why would she consider such a thing?
She was at the doctor, and she was considering an abortion due to the fact that they already live in a small apartment and have money problems and it would be more challenging with a new baby.
Asagai arrives, bringing gifts for Beneatha. What are the gifts?
Asagai gives Beneatha robes and music.
What does Asagai represent to Beneatha? What does Asagai say and do to encourage Beneatha’s search for her identity?
He represents black racial pride, and identity with noble African heritage. He calls her Alaiyo, which means “one for whom food is not enough.” The gifts show he cares for Beneatha.
Soon after Asagai leaves, the mail carrier delivers the insurance check. How much is the check worth? Why does Mama’s expression become sober and then unhappy when she holds the check?
The check is worth $10,000. The reason why she becomes unhappy when she holds the check is because her husband (Big Walter) had to die before they could get the check.
Walter rushes in demanding to know whether the check has arrived. How does he show his insensitivity to the situation at home?
He’s only thinking about his own dream (the liquor store.)
How do Walter’s and Mama’s views of the meaning of life conflict?
Mama thinks that freedom is the most important thing in life, and Walter thinks that money is the most important thing in life.
How does Mama try to influence Walter at the end of the same scene?
She explains what the check is worth to him, and she also decides that they won’t invest in a liquor store, and she also tells him that Ruth is expecting a baby.
When does Act II begin? What is Beneatha doing as the first scene opens? What is she wearing?
It’s later that Saturday, and she’s dancing in the robes that Asagai gave her.
Why does Walter join her in the dance?
He’s drunk, and he’s trying to mock her.
How does the arrival of George Murchison change the mood of the scene?
George is practical and humorless, and he doesn’t find it funny. He’d rather blend into society.
Beneatha calls George an “assimilationist.” What does she mean by that?
He wants to conform to society rather than be himself.
What is Walter’s attitude toward George?
Walter wants George to stop looking down on him, and treat him as an equal.
What is George’s attitude toward Walter?
Condescending – he looks down on Walter.
How does Ruth try to ease Walter’s mood?
Ruth tried to minimize the insults, and tried to get Walter to talk about their future
What evidence is there that Walter and Ruth still love each other, despite their problems?
The honesty comes through when Walter and Ruth start talking to each other.
What news does Mama break to the family in this scene?
Mama tells the family that she bought the house (down-payment) in an all-white neighborhood.
How do Ruth and Walter react to Mama’s news? What does Walter accuse Mama of doing?
Ruth is happy, and Walter is totally disgusted because his dream had been crushed.
Act II Scene II
Act II, Scene II
When does Scene II begin? In what condition is the apartment when Beneatha arrives home from a date with George?
It begins on a Friday night. They see that the family is packing in preparation for the new house.
What sort of woman does George say he wants Beneatha to be? And why doesn’t George want to listen to Beneatha’s ideas?
George wants Beneatha to be pretty and sophisticated. He says that talking is useless
When Beneatha asks George why he goes to college, what is his reply?
He wants a degree.
After George leaves, Mama asks Beneatha if she had a good time on her date. Beneatha replies that George is a “fool.” Why does she say this?
Because he is an assimilationist/superficial.
Why does Beneatha thank her mother?
Beneatha thanks her mother for agreeing with her.
How does Ruth find out that Walter has not been to work for three days? What has Walter been doing instead of going to work?
She gets a call from his employer. He borrowed Willy Harris’s car and drove around town
How does Mama react to Walter’s explanation of where he’s been? What does she give Walter, and how does Walter react to being entrusted with it?
Mama realizes that she had a part in destroying his dream, she felt like she should’ve looked at Walter’s dreams closely. Then, she gave him the rest of the money.
When Walter tells Travis that he wants to hand him the world, what sort of life is Walter envisioning for his family?
He envisions his son of attending the best schools in America
Act II, Scene III
Act II, Scene III
Beneatha and Ruth are busy packing when Ruth tells Beneatha how happy she is with the change in Walter. What are three examples that show Walter has changed in the past week?
They went to the movies, held hands, and started to show affection towards his wife
Why does Mr. Lindner come to the Youngers’ apartment?
He represents the CPIA, and he wants to bribe them out of moving into the house.
Why don’t the residents of Clybourne Park want the Youngers in their neighborhood?
It’s because they’re African-Americans.
How does Walter react to Lindner’s offer?
GET OWF MAIII LAAAAAAWN
What is significant about Mama’s preparing her plant for the move as she listens to the details of the encounter with Lindner?
How does Walter respond to Mama’s determination?
What gifts does the family give Mama? Why are the gifts appropriate?
The family gives Mama gardening tools, as well as a hat. They are appropriate because the house a garden that Mama can grow fruits in.
Why doesn’t Walter answer the door immediately when the bell rings?
Who is at the door? What news does this person bring, and how does Walter react to the news?
Bobo is at the door, and he brings news of the liquor store. He informs Walter that Willy ran off with the money. Walter is completely devastated.
How does Mama react, and to whom does she turn in this time of trouble?
Mama becomes very vague and depressed. However, she turns to God in her time of need.
Bruh, take a break
When does Act III begin? What are Walter and Beneatha doing? When Asagai arrives at the apartment, how does his mood contrast with Walter’s and Beneatha’s?
Asagai is in a positive mood, and Beneatha and Walter are in very dark and depressive moods. It begins an hour later. Walter and Beneatha are moping.
How has the loss of the money changed Beneatha’s optimism? What does she tell Asagai? What is Asagai’s response?
She’s become depressed and cynical. She gave up on her dream of becoming a doctor. Beneatha tells Asagai that Walter lost the money. Asagai was talking about how sad it was that they had to lose a loved one before they got money
Throughout this scene, the stage directions say Walter is listening to Beneatha and Asagai talk. What is Walter’s reaction to their conversation?
He realizes that his selfish actions have destroyed others’ dreams.
How does Asagai define idealists and realists? Which group does he prefer to be associated with?
Idealists see the positive changes and realists do not. He prefers to be associated with the idealists.
What alternative view of the future does Asagai offer to put Beneatha’s depression into perspective?
Asagai says, “The struggle for a better life is worthwhile.”
Asagai leaves, and Walter comes into the living room. How does Beneatha attack Walter? What does Walter do?
She makes fun of him. Walter ignores her. He also calls Lindner.
How is Mama’s resignation evident in her changed physical appearance? Why does Mama put her plant back on the windowsill?
She appears lost and vague. Mama puts the plant back because she knew that they weren’t going to move into the house.
Who does Mama blame for the current situation, and how does she plan to deal with it?
She blames herself for “aiming too high” and she plans to fix up the apartment
Up until now, Ruth has been the practical one. How does she react to Mama’s resignation?
She is frantic about not moving
When Walter arrives back home, what does he say he has done? And what does Walter plan to do?
He says that he called Lindner, and he plans to accept his offer.
Describe Walter’s new view of life as being divided between the “takers” and the “token.”
Walter says that the takers don’t care about right or wrong, and the “token” are confused because they do care
What does Mama mean when she tells Walter that if he takes Lindner’s money he will have nothing left inside?
She said that Walter would be admitting that he is beneath somebody else, and that he is not fit to walk the earth.
Beneatha says Walter is no brother of hers. What lesson does Mama have to remind Beneatha about?
She doesn’t have the privilege/right to give up on her brother because she doesn’t know what he had gone through.
When Lindner arrives, why does Mama insist that Travis stay in the room? What does she believe about Walter?
She wants Travis to understand what kind of man his father is. She believes that Walter won’t take the offer because he wouldn’t want Travis to think that he’s an inferior man.
What does Walter tell Lindner? Why? Why does Lindner decide to appeal to Mama? What is her response?
Walter tells him that they wouldn’t take the offer. She appeals to Mama because he hopes that she would take the offer.
Even though they love one another and have just acted heroically, the play ends with Walter and Beneatha arguing again. What do their actions now say about them as “heroes”?
They still squabble even if they love each other, because of sibling rivalry. They are not perfect people.
What change do both Mama and Ruth find in Walter?
Walter finally reached his manhood. (Theme)
What is the importance of having Mama return to the empty apartment to grab her plant?
Mama’s plant is the symbol of her life, dreams, and children. The plant has survived with little light; she and her children will also survive.