A Raisin in the Sun: Character Analysis & Traits

A Raisin in the Sun: Character Analysis & Traits
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  • 0:03 The American Dream
  • 0:25 The Players
  • 4:37 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

This lesson will be a brief overview of the traits and characteristics of each of the players and their struggles to fulfill their dreams in the Lorraine Hansberry play 'A Raisin in the Sun.'

The American Dream

A Raisin in the Sun is a play about an African American family on the south side of Chicago that is striving to fulfill the American dream. It is a somewhat autobiographical account of what the author, Lorraine Hansberry, faced when her father purchased a home in a white neighborhood in the 1940s. In this lesson, we will learn more about the characters.

The Players

Ruth Younger is Walter Lee Younger's wife. Exhausted by living a life of poverty, Ruth has become irritable. Ruth's work ethic, love for family, and practical nature are evident. Ruth wants to support her husband, Walter Lee, but she sees him as someone that lives life with his head in the clouds. 'Honey, you never say nothing new. I listen to you every day, every night and every morning, and you never say nothing new. So you would rather be Mr. Arnold than be his chauffeur. So--I would rather be living in Buckingham Palace.' When she becomes pregnant, Ruth considers abortion because of the financial hardship having another child would place on her family.

Walter Lee Younger is Ruth's husband and Lena's son. He works as a chauffeur for a wealthy white family, the Arnolds. His head is in the clouds as he constantly searches for his next get-rich-quick scheme. He wants to invest in a liquor store with some associates, Willy and Bobo. He is furious at Lena for not immediately handing over the life insurance check she receives after the death of his father. Walter Lee constantly argues with his younger sister, Beneatha, about the cost of her medical school. 'If you so crazy 'bout messing 'round with sick people--then go be a nurse like other women--or just get married and be quiet.' In his quest for financial gain, Walter Lee loses track of what really matters.

Travis Younger is Ruth and Walter Lee Younger's son. Travis sleeps on the couch because there are no other rooms available in the small family apartment. To make extra money, Travis wants to work carrying groceries for people at the store. Travis loves his family despite all of the financial worries. He escapes by playing outside with neighborhood kids. 'I always wanted to live in a house.'

Beneatha Younger is Walter Lee Younger's sister who is attending medical school. She is dating both Joseph Asagai and George Murchison. Beneatha is young and searching to define herself as she moves from one interest to another. Beneatha shares a room with her mother. Her education has provided her with strong opinions that sometimes oppose the views of her family.

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