Compare and Contrast A Raisin in the Sun

Category: Raisin in the Sun
Last Updated: 18 Apr 2023
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The play “A Raisin in the Sun,” was a radically new representation of black life, resolutely authentic, fiercely unsentimental, and unflinching in its vision of what happens to people whose dreams are constantly deferred. I compared Act One, Scene 2, in the play and the film. The setting in the play is on a Saturday morning, and house cleaning is in process at the Youngers. In the film, the setting is the same as play, with lighting and costumes.

The plot in the play is when Mrs. Younger gets the insurance check of $10,000. In the film, the plot is the same, but includes music not mentioned in the play. The dialogue in the film has some deletions from the original text, with new dialogue added throughout the scene. Some film techniques used are: the film cuts back and forth to different characters, the room is well lit with the sunshine coming in through the window, and music is added throughout some parts of this scene.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the play and the film in this scene involves dialogue. Much of the dialogue is deleted; however, new dialogue is added through some parts of this scene. Also, in the play, the mailman comes up to their apartment and rings the doorbell unlike the film, Travis runs up to him outside the building and gets the mail from him right away and runs back to give it to Mrs. Younger (his grandma). Racism was rampant during the 1950’s and this often hindered African American dreams.

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What is the American dream? In the play, A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry, Walter is depicted as being a very ambitious and determined man. He often had dreams of making a better life for his family and himself. One way of making a reaching his dream was to open a liquor store. “I got a dream…. I got to take hold of this here world; I’m going to open a liquor store. ” This is all Walter dreams about. A way for him to achieve this dream is to utilize the $10,000 insurance money from his father’s death.

Walter’s dream conflicts with his mother’s, Lena’s (mama’s), dream. Lena, known as mama, is a strong, caring, and very religious woman. She works very hard to try and help her family have the best. She dreams of owning a house for the family “You should know the dream I have of owning a house and fixing it up and making me a little garden” . This brings about conflict with the other family members, particularly Walter who is already set on opening his own liquor store.

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

The play "A Raisin in the Sun" by Lorraine Hansberry has many intriguing characters. As I would see it, the most interesting character is Ruth Younger, in view of her numerous feelings and dazzling identity. She experiences outrageous feelings in the play, for example, happiness, trouble, outrage, push, and so on. In the play, Ruth is extremely independent, kind, and adoring. Ruth has a captivating identity. She is exceptionally adoring towards her family. She will do all in her capacity to enhance the way of life of her family.

Ruth endeavors to make the best of things. As successfully depicted in the film using high contrast, the loft needs daylight and the glow a home needs and individuals hunger for. In the midst of her grim life in the confined flat, she coordinates all her vitality toward the joy of her child and spouse. She is baffled since life has not satisfied her desires. Because of her stale position, she is "known among her people a 'settled lady'".

She agrees to fulfillment instead of searching out satisfaction. With lease to pay and a family to think about, she has surrendered any considerations of a superior future for herself. Rather, she raises Travis and backings Walter with an end goal to think about their fantasies. She attempts to veil her own discontent in plans to fortify the family soul and urge them to see the positive qualities in the revolting.

Her dynamic commitment to deal with the family is customarily misused and negated by Mama. In their real scene, a significant number of Ruth's activities are addressed by Mama including her treatment of Travis. Having her maternal endeavors overridden by Mama wounds Ruth's mind. Subsequently, she frequently feels uprooted. Her activities appear to be futile in light of the fact that she isn't permitted to totally accept the familial job of mother.

In her disappointing cycle of benevolent activities to disregard the unforgiving substances Ruth even thinks about a premature birth to shield her family from another troublesome issue. She leaves herself to the choice on the grounds that "a woman will do anything for her family" regardless of how revolting it might be.

At the point when Mama informs the family concerning the house, Ruth gauges the positives and negatives of the decision, decides this is a change for her family, and endeavors to fortify the great characteristics about the move. It likewise helps that she sees the change as something to be thankful for herself as she cheerfully expresses "this is my time in life". Actually, it is, yet she is clashed on the grounds that Walter isn't content with the choice which undermines her objective to guarantee her family satisfaction.

For her, development and additionally change of any sort is a change, so she grasps the choice in spite of the fact that it is one that achieves another arrangement of issues because of negative race relations. Gratefully, she can enjoy the house and see Walter cheerful as Mama hands over the job of leader of the family to him. The restored certainty of Walter prompts a retouching of his and Ruth's relationship and her job as guardian, spouse, and mother.

A Raisin in the Sun

Based on the Broadway play by Lorraine Hansberry in 1959 to which a film adaptation was made in 1961 that starred its original cast including Sidney Poitier as Walter Younger, “A Raisin in the Sun” tells of the struggle of an African American family during the tumultuous peak of racial segregation in the United States in the 1950’s.

The Younger family, who lived in the suburban ghettos of Chicago, finally found a new sense of hope when an insurance amounting to $10,000 was received by Lena for her husband’s death.  All the members of the family had different ideas on how the money should be spent.

Walter Lee wants it invested in a liquor store, Beneatha wants to use it to finance her medical studies and their mother, Lena wants to buy a house.  To accommodate everyone’s plans, Lena used a portion of the money to purchase a new house and apportioned the rest for Walter’s business plans, Beneatha’s studies and some for herself.  She gave the money to Walter for keeping.

The house that Lena purchased in Clybourne Park turns out to be located in a racist neighborhood that dislikes non white residents. Mr. Lindner, a representative from neighborhood association, offered the Younger family to repurchase the house to keep the black family away from the neighborhood, which the latter apparently turned down.

  As the family gets ready to relocate, a horrible incident occurred. Walter squandered the family’s money including Beneatha's funds for schooling in a fraudulent deal with his deceitful partner, Willy Harris.  Willy took the invested money and just disappeared.

The misfortune shattered the hopes and dreams of the family and disoriented their illusion of a better life. They blew away this one time opportunity that could change their life.  The new house that was suppose to signify a new beginning seemed to swear  a new episode of adversity as the neighbors have signified their abhorrence to their color.

While the money that promises them a better future have gone wasted. In a last bid to redeem himself, Walter contacts Linder to reconsider the offer.  However when Linder arrives, Walter realized that there is more to life than wealth.   He realized the need to stand up for their rights and stand up against racism.  The future may seem dim and risky especially considering that they are in a white neighborhood and they lost all their money, but his family can manage to pull it through as long they stay together.


The fight against racism has come a long way.  Before the rise of the Civil Rights Movement in the mid 1900’s, racial oppression in US is rampant and has institutionalized itself in the fabrics of American society.  The story of the Youngers provided a glimpse into reality and struggles of African Americans in a racist society.

The Youngers actually represented the typical African American family beset in poverty and discrimination.  During the time of slavery, racism is accepted as a norm for its economic value. In the 1950’s however, slavery has metamorphosed itself to fit within the new economic design. Segregation is manifested in the socio economic constitution of society.

Economic stratification is based on race as the black people usually end up in low paying jobs.  Lacking both the education and opportunity, Walter and Ruth represents the modern black slave in the 1950’s.  Walter works as a chauffeur and his wife Ruth, works as a domestic helper.  They are both paid servants of the white people.

The novel also reflected the different predilections on how African Americans reacted to racial segregation in society.  Walter, Lena and Ruth personified the African Americans struggling within the oppressive framework of society. They endeavor to have a better life within their meager means.

Thus, they tend to resort to a lot of wishful thinkings and accept distorted views about the world.  Ruth in particular, thought about having an abortion to avoid the additional financial burden of having another child.  Walter on the other hand dismisses his misfortune by apathetically accepting is as a reality in life. “Life is divided up between the takers and the tooken and some of us always getting tooken".   (Hansberry)

Beneatha and her suitor, Asagai, represents that new generation of enlightened African Americans, who are educated, independent and promising. Beneatha’s broad thinking eventually led her to realize of her mistaken sense of independence as he recognized her unconscious reliance to his father’s insurance money to fulfill her dreams of becoming a doctor. Incidentally, Beneatha's cut hair symbolized her repudiation against white dominated cultural conventions.

Beneatha's hairstyle reflected African identity and culture and she wears it with pride.  Asagai, on the other hand, demonstrates his pride of his African heritage. He portrays the African American set on a mission to help his fellow black brethren to trace their roots to Africa and reconstruct or restore their lost identity. In doing so, he hopes to bring positive change and help provide better direction to African Americans and become more productive and effective citizens.

In contrast to them are Willy Harris and George Murchison.  The former is Walter’s business partner who ran away with the family’s money.  The latter is Beneatha's conceited suitor, who came from a rich family and has managed to immerse themselves in the white culture.  Willy and George represent the black people who are indifferent of the plight of the black community.

Willy has a confounded idea of surviving even at the expense of his black brethren with an utter disregard of the feelings of people. Willy creates the African Americans image that has a criminal penchant and a tautological menace to civilization. On the other hand, George’s indifference to the troubles of racial bigotry springs from his myopic view of life and the affluence he enjoys.  Money has a way of shaping people’s thoughts regardless of race.  “The only people in the world who are more snobbish than rich white people are rich colored people” (Hansberry)

Of Dreams, Hopes and a Home

The novel tells of the perseverance of dreams, the unions and conflicts that emanate in pursuit of dreams, the perpetual struggle against all forms of oppression and the liberation and fulfillment that one obtains in the process or in the failure.   Every member of the Younger family has his and her own individual dreams but shares one single dream of a better home and better life.

Lena wants a new house, Beneatha wants to become a doctor and Walter wants to have a business.  But all of them actually wanted just a better life and better home.  Unfortunately, they all have misunderstood the idea of a better home. For Lena, a better home means getting away from the Ghetto and finding a new house.

Beneatha equates a better life with getting an education, being a professional, being able to live independently and getting respect that any black person deserves.  Walter on the other hand, has a more practical view of a better home.  It is about having more money and greater means to provide for one’s family.

The advent of the insurance money gave the family a new sense of hope of that better home.  That hope was lost when the money got lost.  However, it took this inopportune fate to happen for the family members to realize that they are already living the home they are dreaming of.

The real hope resides on them and not on any other material thing such as money. For as long as they stay together as a family, any place is a better home. Hence, while Walter was not able to build the liquor business he dreamed of, or Beneatha did not become the doctor that she wanted to be or Lena getting the house in a quiet place he dream about, the Younger family found the real home by sticking with each other through thick and thin. “There is always something left to love.

And if you ain't learned that, you ain't learned nothing”.  (Hansberry) Despite the insufficiency of wealth, the lack of the status and prestige and the absence of a serene environment in their new found place, the Younger’s new house will always be a home to the family so long as there is love, understanding and faith among the members.


A Raisin in the Sun is about the struggle of a typical African American family for a more economically better life amidst the racial discrimination prevalent in the American society.  While the different circumstances of the characters in the story demonstrated the tyranny of racism and the different ways of how African Americans handle and face this predicament, in the end, every body realizes that the only way to fight the adversities in life including racism and economic depravity is by holding on to each other.

The Younger family is set to live in the white neighborhood ready to face the risks of discrimination that awaits them.  The Younger family is now ready to face the economic challenges that will continue to befall them.  They are confident that as long as they remained solid as a family and remain true to each other, they can overcome all the challenges and obstacles in life.


Hansberry, Lorraine (2000). A Raisin in the Sun. Holt, Rinehart and Winston


Women in A Raisin in the Sun

Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun is the story of a struggling black family in Chicago. This story embodies Hansberry's use of strong black women, she was a realistic artist, fascinated by ordinary and real people with each one clearly and vividly drawn. In this play, Hansberry portrays courageous and revolutionary women who share struggles with each other and also with their men. Hansberry speaks loudly about the role women have played in the struggle for freedom.

In A Raisin in the Sun, Hansberry shows three major female characters in very different stages in their lives. Lena wants to save her family from dissolution by resolving conflicts, remaining righteous and being the rock and the leader of the Youngers. Beneatha wants to both develop her intellect by attending school and be of service to humanity by practicing medicine; Ruth, on the other hand, wants Travis to grow up in a decent home in a decent neighborhood. However, they all share a common goal for their family.

Although different from each other, the women remain unified at the end of the play when the whole family decides to move into a new house, significant because they would rather face the dangerous risk of moving into a racist neighborhood than stay in their poor situation. Mama portrays the traditional, holy, black woman during the period of the civil rights movement, much like that of the time she is the backbone in their house and supports the family through their many trials and tribulations. Throughout the play Walter, Lena Younger’s son, is undoubtedly a catalyst in the troubles the family faces.

He seems helpless and feels he is less than a man because his family is poor and he has so many aspirations. During the play he lobbies for the support of the family to give him the money to invest in a liquor store, and finally in a critical scene, even though she has her doubts, Mama hands over part of the ten thousand dollars of his father’s life insurance to him. Walter may not know it but she is handing over the duty as the head of the household to him. After their heart-wrenching face to face talk with her son, Lena doesn't want his dream to be deferred, she says, "Listen to me now. I say I've been wrong, son.

That I been doing what the rest of the world been doing to you" ( ). Through giving this money to Walter, Lena hopes his spirits will lift before the family loses him. She then says, "There ain't nothing worth holding on to, money, dreams, nothing else if it means it's going to destroy my boy". ( ). It is evident that there is nothing more important to Lena than her family's happiness, and as a mother she only has Walter's best interest in mind. Although Lena can be seen as an old-fashioned black woman she also displays some forward thinking on her part when she buys a house for her family.

Not only does she just buy a house but she dares to buy one in a white neighborhood. She knows she is taking a risk but she does it anyway to improve her family's living situation, advancing on the concept that her family always comes first. The house that she brought was the best she could find for her money and she wasn't going to be denied such an opportunity because of the racist neighborhood. She is tired of her family being held back by white society in which Walter is mostly the victim. At one point Lena waivers at moving because Walter loses the money. She loses hope for a moment.

This scene is the most dramatic scene because when Lena learns that Walter lost the money, she slaps him with anger. She then illustrates how hard his father worked for the money. She says "I seen... him... night after night... come in ... and look at that rug... and then look at me... the red showing in his eyes... the veins moving in his head... I seen him grow thin and old before he was forty ... working and working like somebody's old horse ... killing himself ... and you - you give it all away in a day... " ( ). Lena just couldn't stand the thought of her husband working everyday for nothing.

However, even though she didn't like what he did, she later scolds Beneatha for criticizing him because she doesn't want Walter to be hurt any further. Ruth and Lena show tremendous understanding with Walter. In the story Hansberry describes Ruth by writing, "We can see that she was a pretty girl, even exceptionally so, but now it is apparent that life has been little that she expected, and disappointment has already begun to hang in her face" ( ). It is apparent by the way Hansberry describes Ruth that times have been hard for her.

It is understandable though, black women were expected to do domestic work as well as work outside the home to complement their husband's income and effectively handle both major tasks. Ruth also displays a lot of strength when she deals with a pregnancy that the family may not be able to support. Through all of these responsibilities more stress is added on to the fact that Walter shuts her out emotionally. Ruth’s relationship with Walter becomes distant as the play goes on, Walter simply doesn't feel the support he needs from her and he doesn’t know how to get back to a good place with their relationship.

Ruth doesn't seem supportive at first, however she really understands him, she wants a better life for her family, too but she's just more of a realist. Ruth does tip-off Lena that Walter wanted the money to start a business when she says, "Ain't nobody business people till they go into business. Walter Lee say colored people ain't never going to start getting ahead till they start gambling on some different kinds of things in the world - investments and things". ( ).

After Lena mentions buying a house Ruth gets excited because she knows that to save her marriage and her family they must move into the new house, it also means that she can keep the new baby on the way. Beneatha's character in A Raisin in the Sun portrays how a radical, independent black female would act, she represents a new generation of women that to be free. In one part of the play Beneatha rejects God, saying “I’m sick about hearing about god” Her intense personality and stubborn attitude is probably what causes her to lose her faith.

She doesn't realize that faith is what helped her family through hard times. Beneatha's main goal throughout the play was to pursue her education and become a doctor. During the civil rights movement a black female doctor is very rare and even thinking about entering practice may be looked down upon. In the beginning Beneatha was not supported by her brother Walter, he may have felt jealousy and couldn't stand the thought of part of the insurance money going to her schooling. He criticized Beneatha's dreams, which is hypocritical because he does not want anybody criticizing his.

Walter doesn't support his sister's dream of being a doctor because he wants the money for himself. Beneatha's love interests in the story confirm her beliefs. George Murchinson essentially believes in what her brother thinks and Asagai supports her. George is not sensitive enough to notice that Beneatha is an intellectual and only feels he needs to suit her physical needs as well. Asagai, on the other hand, appeals to Beneatha's intellectual and psychological needs. Beneatha is at a stage where she wants to feel at ease and be encouraged to philosophize and express her opinions.

She is definitely more receptive towards Asagai because he supports her dreams. The Younger women may argue and disagree but would never betray their family or their race. They, as a whole, act not only as the rock of the family, but the glue that bonds everyone together. Walter would be lost without the support he receives and although he does not show it very often, he loves all of them very much. The women of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun play a key role in the stability of the family and a clear picture into the hearts and minds of the characters, they are an integral part of the play.

Related Questions

on Compare and Contrast A Raisin in the Sun

How does A Raisin in the Sun compare and contrast in the death of a salesman?
A Raisin in the Sun and Death of a Salesman both explore themes of family, ambition, and the American Dream. However, the two plays differ in their approach to these themes. A Raisin in the Sun focuses on the Younger family's struggle to achieve their dreams in the face of racism and poverty, while Death of a Salesman follows the story of Willy Loman, an aging salesman whose life is in decline due to his inability to achieve the American Dream.
What are some differences between A Raisin in the Sun book and movie?
The book and movie versions of A Raisin in the Sun have some differences. The book is told from the perspective of the characters, while the movie is told from an outside perspective. Additionally, the book includes more detail and character development than the movie, which is more focused on the plot.
What are the similarities and differences between Beneatha and Walter?
Beneatha and Walter are both characters in Lorraine Hansberry's play A Raisin in the Sun. They are both members of the Younger family and share a common goal of wanting to improve their lives. However, they have different approaches to achieving this goal. Beneatha is more focused on education and self-improvement, while Walter is more focused on financial gain. They also have different views on the importance of their heritage and the role of religion in their lives.
What is the greatest similarity between the two works A Raisin in the Sun?
The greatest similarity between A Raisin in the Sun and another work is that both works explore the struggles of a family trying to make ends meet and achieve their dreams in a society that is often hostile to them. Both works also explore themes of identity, race, and class, and how these factors shape the lives of the characters.

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Compare and Contrast A Raisin in the Sun. (2017, May 28). Retrieved from

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