|A Raisin in the Sun
Theme: Pursuing the American Dream Against Difficult Odds
Grades: Grades 10-11
Set in Chicago in the 1950s, this three-act play explores the struggles
of ordinary people to achieve their desires. An African American family
pursuing the American dream of owning a home encounters racism and must
decide what is really important in life. This play refelcts society
before fair-housing and equal-employment laws were enforced, and before
most African nations had gained independence from European rulers.
- Concept Web.
Ask students to work independently or in small groups to create a
world web or other graphic organizer that explores one or more of
the following concepts: dreams, materialism, family, self-esteem.
Have students discuss or role-play one of the situations that follow:
(1) Imagine that your family suddenly wins the lottery. What does
it feel like to have all that money? What will you do with it? What
conflicts might arise among family members and others? (2) Your family
moves into a new neighborhood, but your neighbors don't want you living
there. They do everything to make your life unpleasant in your new
home. Do you put up with it or move out?
Have students write a monologue for their favorite character in
the play and include the thoughts and feelings of that person. Set
the monologue at a critical moment of the play, such as when the
family learns that Walter has lost their money or when Walter tells
Mr. Lindner to leave the first time. Point out that a monologue
is a speech given by only one character. Students will deliver their
monologues to the class and then discuss them.
- What Is $10,000 Worth Today?
In 1959, the year A Raisin in the Sun was first produced,
$10,000 was worth much more than it is worth today. Have students
look up inflation rates for each year since 1959 and use that information
to calculate how much $10,000 would be worth today. Suggest that students
display their results on a graph.
- The Civil Rights Movement.
The Civil Rights Movement forms an important background to the story
of the Younger family, who are searching for an identity and dealing
with prejudice. Have students research the Civil Rights Movement in
the United States in the 1950s and the 1960s and write a research
paper about one aspect of it--either about a major event, like the
Montgomery bus boycott, or about a person like Dr. Martin Luther King,
- African-American Writers.
Have student research another African-American woman writer, such
as Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, or Alice Walker. Instruct students
to write a comparison between the life and work of Lorraine Hansberry
and that writer. Have them note similarities and differences in their
work and how it reflects their feelings about such issues as civil
rights and the African-American family.