Title: A Raisin in the Sun
Author: Lorraine Hansberry
Genre: Classic Plays
Number of Pages: 162
I’m really glad I decided to give reading plays a chance, because if I hadn’t I never would have read books like this one. I didn’t know much about A Raisin in the Sun except that it’s a very famous play about a working class black family and it’s also a classic work of literature that gets assigned in schools a lot. I picked a really old copy off my mom’s shelf and I immediately got pulled into the distinct personalities of the characters and the naturalistic flow of the dialogue.
The play follows the struggles of the Younger family, who live in a cramped and uncomfortable apartment and are hoping for an opportunity to have a better life. The family members who live in this one apartment consist of the matriarch, her two adult children, her son’s wife, and her grandson. They look out for each other but they also fight all the time, just like a lot of real families. When their chance to live in a much better home is challenged by racism, they’re faced with a moral quandary that threatens to split the already fragile family dynamic open at the seams.
I both liked and didn’t like the main characters, and there was never a single character who was in the ‘right’ or had better sense than the others. They were all very different but they were all fallible and had parts of them that were kind and parts of them that were selfish. I got pulled into their troubled family dynamic and I admired their determination to keep their dignity intact, even though society was determined to stomp them down and make them compliant.
This play handles a lot of different facets of African-American culture and identity through the various belief systems of the younger family, but it didn’t feel didactic at all. I also thought the ending was perfect and it didn’t end like I expected it to. I’m interested in reading more of this author’s work, which seems to have mostly gone under the radar besides this play.