A Raisin in the Sun Vocabulary

Instructor: Catherine Rose

Catherine taught middle and high school English and has a master's degree in Education.

In this lesson we will explore the vocabulary of the stage direction in ~'A Raisin in the Sun~' by Lorraine Hansberry. Journey with us to the 1950s as we investigate some of the terminology in this classic story.

A Family Dream

The classic story, 'A Raisin in the Sun' by Lorraine Hansberry, tells the story of the Youngers, an African-American family living in Chicago in the 1950s. They have recently inherited money and much of the play involves the heated discussions about what to do with it. Should they buy a house, pay for medical school for one of the children, or invest in a new business? The story illuminates the reality of discrimination and challenges African-Americans faced in the United States in the 1950s.

Written as a play, much of the text of the story is seen through the dialogue of the characters. Hansberry, however, includes quite a bit of keen stage directions that reveal the characters' emotions, actions, and unspoken thoughts. These stage directions include some specific vocabulary.

Let's explore some of the vocabulary used in the story.

Act One

Indestructible: adj. Cannot be destroyed

Disheveled:adj. Not neat; unkempt

Vain: adj. Not successful or effective; futile

Erratic: adj. Odd and with no apparent pattern or regularity

Indictment: noun. Criticism, blame or accusation

Indifferently: adv. Having no interest or emotion

Exasperated: verb (with object). Annoyed, irritated, frustrated

Grudgingly: adv. Done without willingness

Sullen: adj. Displaying sulky gloominess

Vindicated: verb (with object). Justified as in made to feel correct

Defiance: noun. Disregard for authority or opposition

Permeated: verb. To penetrate and spread throughout

Inflection: noun. A method of speaking and pronouncing words

Vengeance: noun. The desire to harm in revenge

Unobtrusively: adv. Done unnoticeably

Feeble: adj. Lacking physical strength or fortitude

Doggedly: adv. Not giving up

Furtively: adv. Done secretively or cleverly

Futile: adj. Not effective

Raucous: adj. Loud and hearty

Profound: adj. Deep and beyond what is obvious

Bastion: noun. A place of protection

Indignantly: adv. Showing distaste for something insulting or offensive

Heathenism: noun. A belief or practice of worshipping idols

Forlornly: adv. Sad and without hope

Dejection: noun. Depressed

Assimilationism: noun. The process of adopting the practice of another ethnic group

Acutely: adv. Done in a sudden and sharp manner

Insinuatingly: adv. Done to suggest in a clever manner

Beseechingly: adv. Done with a sense of begging or urgency

Act Two

Coquettishly:adv. Done in a flirty or teasing way

Ornate: adj. Overly decorated and showy

Flourish: noun. An act with great show or display

Enraptured: verb (with object). Held captive with delight

Misgiving: noun. Feelings of doubt or distrust

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