A Raisin in the Sun Summary
Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun tells the story of the Younger family, residents of the South Side of Chicago. Lena Younger, or Mama, has recently lost her husband, Walter Sr., and is waiting on the arrival of a $10,000 life insurance check. Her son, Walter Lee, and his wife, Ruth, raise their son, Travis, in the same apartment; the two parents share a bedroom while Travis sleeps on the couch. Walter’s sister, Beneatha, also lives with the family, sharing a room with Mama.
The family has different ideas of what to do with the check. Mama wants to use it to buy a new house, one where the family can breathe and grow. Beneatha does not have any strong feelings, but she would certainly appreciate the money being used towards her medical schooling; she wants to break with traditional gender roles for women and become a doctor. Ruth is not concerned with the check; she instead is preoccupied with her newly discovered pregnancy and how it will impact their family. Walter, however, wants to use the check to open a liquor store, something no one in his family agrees with. As the play progresses, Walter feels as though he gets no support from the people that are supposed to love him.
Ultimately, Mama places a down payment on a home in Clybourne Park, a suburb of Chicago populated almost exclusively by whites. Because of this, the family is visited by Karl Lindner, a representative of the Welcoming Committee there; he offers them a financial settlement to not move into the house they have purchased, something the Youngers reject. Mama surprises Walter by giving him the remaining money; she tells him to leave a portion in a savings account for Beneatha to use for medical school. Walter, however, ignores her and gives the entire sum to his friend to begin investing in the store; unsurprisingly, his friend runs away with the money. Just as Walter is at his lowest and is about to give in to Mr. Lindner’s financial settlement, he comes into his own and stands tall. He wants to show his son that with enough hard work and perseverance, anyone can achieve their goals. He may not get as wealthy as he had envisioned becoming through the liquor store, but the happiness of his family is utterly priceless.