Tuesday, January 25

BOOK REPORT edgewood shares classic theatrical literature

Ms. Yvonne DeVane’s eighth graders at Edgewood recently finished reading the play "A Raisin in the Sun" by Lorraine Hansberry.  Here’s a synopsis of the story that has become a classic in American literature:

In the first scene of “A Raisin in the Sun,” we meet the major characters, learn of the 1950’s setting and themes and discover the major conflict. All of the Younger’s await the arrival of a $10,000 life insurance check, resulting from the death of Walter and Beneatha’s father. Walter, the protagonist, believes he will be able to use the money to invest in a liquor store with his two friends. His dream is to be a successful businessman. Beneatha, his sister dreams of being a doctor.  Walter’s mother, known as Mama, and his wife Ruth dream of buying a house.

Mama, to whom the money actually belongs, uses it to put a down payment on a house in Clybourne Park, a white neighborhood, fulfilling her idea of achieving the “American Dream”. After much conflict, Walter gets the remaining money, part of which was to go towards Beneatha’s college education.  One of Walter’s friends steals the money, which is the climax of the play. Walter is upset and his family is very angry about his irresponsibility. 

The rest of the play centers on how Walter and the family handles the loss. In order to recoup some of the money, he decides they will sell the new house to the Clybourne Park Association (who had earlier tried to buy them out) for a handsome profit, destroying the hopes of Mama and Ruth in the process. In the end, he stands up to Mr. Lindner and refuses to sell. His decision proves he has regained his pride and come into his manhood. Although the money is lost, the Younger’s stand strong.

The success of the play arises from its realistic portrayal of an African American family during the 1950s. The message is that a family such as the Younger’s, who suffer from poverty and discrimination, can survive, even thrive, in spite of overwhelming obstacles. Hansberry never strays from this central theme throughout the entire play.

Contributed by Yvonne, Edgewood campus

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