A Raisin in the Sun's Setting

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  • 0:04 Family Setting
  • 0:30 The Youngers' Apartment
  • 1:30 New Setting, New Problems
  • 1:50 Southside Chicago in the 1950s
  • 2:50 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Washington

Danielle is a certified English Language Arts educator with 8 years of classroom experience, and has an education specialist degree in curriculum and instruction.

Can you imagine living in a cramped two-bedroom apartment with your entire family? This describes the setting of the play 'A Raisin in the Sun' by Lorraine Hansberry. In this lesson, you will learn about where and when the action in this play takes place.

Family Setting

A Raisin in the Sun is a play by Lorraine Hansberry that tells the story of the Youngers, a Black family struggling against racism and poverty to achieve their dream of owning a home. The family is made up of Mama, her son Walter Lee and his wife Ruth, her daughter Beneatha, and Walter Lee and Ruth's son Travis. Most of the action in the play happens in the Youngers' tiny two-bedroom apartment.

The Youngers' Apartment

Walter Lee and Ruth share one bedroom, while Mama and Beneatha share the other bedroom. Poor Travis, the youngest of the family, must sleep on the couch in the living room, which also acts as the dining room. As the play opens, the audience can see that the kitchen is as small as a closet. In fact, the apartment is so small that the Youngers don't even have their own bathroom. They share one bathroom in the hallway of their apartment building with their neighbors, the Johnsons.

As you can imagine, living with so many people in such a small space can create a lot of conflict. The family members argue constantly, especially about how to spend their money. The most important problem that arises because of the setting occurs when Ruth gets pregnant. She considers not having the baby because there isn't enough space in the apartment. To help solve this problem, Mama goes out and uses a portion of a $10,000 check that the family has just received to buy a new home in Clyborne Park, an entirely white neighborhood across town.

New Setting, New Problems

This change in setting creates a new problem for the Youngers, because the white residents of Clyborne Park do not want a Black family in their neighborhood. In fact, when the white residents find out that the Youngers plan to move in, they send a representative to offer the Youngers money to stay in their own neighborhood. The Youngers decide to refuse the offer.

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