A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry // Plays Rule. This One Especially.

Thursday, 21 July 2016
A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry
Publication: November 29, 2004, by Vintage (1959 originally)
Genre: Play, Historical
Pages: 151
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed

Indeed Lorraine Hansberry's award-winning drama about the hopes and aspirations of a struggling, working-class family living on the South Side of Chicago connected profoundly with the psyche of black America--and changed American theater forever. The play's title comes from a line in Langston Hughes's poem "Harlem," which warns that a dream deferred might "dry up/like a raisin in the sun."
"The events of every passing year add resonance to A Raisin in the Sun," said The New York Times. "It is as if history is conspiring to make the play a classic." This Modern Library edition presents the fully restored, uncut version of Hansberry's landmark work with an introduction by Robert Nemiroff.

My Thoughts:

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry is one of the books that I was required to read this year for English class, and I just expected a nothing-special book about racism and America back in the day. Little did I know that this would be a play, about a family who overcomes differences within them and that the playwright would feature feminism, dreams coming true and just about everything I was looking for in a play that will require me to think, write essays on and have fun reading. Although its title is extremely odd, and I still do not understand why Lorraine Hansberry had decided to give the story of the Youngers this particular title, this ruled. Okay, I do see the reference from the poem, Harlem, but come on. It ain't clear. I totally understand why in the past, many have been interested with this story and how it even became a film.

What was my favourite thing was that this is so relatable. I mean, I was not born in the 1950s, I did/do not have the issues that the Youngers are having, but I just felt this automatic relation to the characters and their dreams during this difficult period of time in South Side Chicago. Before reading, I actually was in Chicago for a book conference, and I did visit the South Side of the city and discovered that that was the setting for the difficulty and poverty that many experienced. Every character of Hanberry's had something to share with readers. This is just a must-read for people looking to read a play, or a beautiful story about poverty, dreams and racism, all mixed in together like a stew. It made me want to cry, laugh and just be grateful for life.

Readers, from the first dazzling scene that spends a lot of time describing the setting of the play, which was the apartment home of the Youngers, are introduced to Walter, the protagonist, Beneatha, his younger sister, Ruth, his wife, Travis, his son, and Mama, the mother of Walter and Beneatha. These characters each have their own dreams and contain a lot of hope, though I will not spoil their aspirations because honestly? That's the reader's job to do. This all begins when the Youngers are awaiting an insurance check for Mama, which was $10 000. This could really change their lives, have them move into a new home, but they soon discover that they, because they are "Negroes," are not wanted. 

"God knows there was plenty wrong with Walter Younger—hard-headed, mean, kind of wild with women—plenty wrong with him. But he sure loved his children. Always wanted them to have something—be something. That's where Brother gets all these notions, I reckon."

This is just a great story. I feel like watching the movie now, taking everything in and really enjoying the story once more. You can't not enjoy Lorraine Hansberry's story. There is so much going on all the time and each character just makes my heart squirm. I couldn't stop reading, and this was definitely the most real play I have read.

I actually got the chance to act a scene out of this particular play, the scene where the Younger family is confronted by Mr. Lindner, a man who is part of a community "welcoming committee" of Clybourne Park, which is the neighbourhood of the home that the Youngers purchased with the insurance money. I played Ruth, and it was spectacular feeling the feelings that the Youngers felt and undergoing a similar to feel to what they had. My group got perfect on that assignment. 

A Raisin in the Sun is a memorable, special read that for some, may seem boring, but for me, was unique and light and beautiful. You will fall in love with this cute group of characters, and you will lie in bed, unable to stop thinking about the social issues presented by the playwright. Lorraine Hansberry, your characters Walter, Ruth, Mama and Beneatha will always stick with me, in my heart. I feel like going to eat a packet of raisins now.

What is the latest play you have read? What is your favourite play of all time?

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