A Raisin in the Sun



  • A play by Lorraine Hansberry (1930 - 65), first performed in 1958 in New York. The first play by a Black woman to be produced on Broadway, it had a Black director and cast and found financial backing from the Black business community. It was very successful and won the New York critics' circle Award for 1959. In 1961 the story was made into a film starring Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee from the original Broadway cast. A musical version, Raisin, found considerable success in 1973.

    The plot, which is based on the author's own childhood experiences, concerns the struggles of a Black family in Chicago. When her husband dies, Mama Younger receives a large sum of insurance money and buys a house in an all-White neighbourhood. This causes bitter disappointment to her son, Walter Lee, who had hoped to use the money to open a liquor store, but his pregnant wife, Ruth is delighted. Walter's sister, Beneatha, is only concerned withher plans to study medicine. Mama finally gives Walter the remaining money, including Beneatha's share, for his store, but his business partner runs off with the cash. Walter feels humiliated but wins back the respect of his family by insisting they still move into the new house.

    The play's title alludes to some lines from 'Harlem', a poem by LangstonHughes:

    What happens to a dream deferred?
    Does it dry up
    Like a raisin in the sun?