Königs Erläuterung zu Lorraine Hansberry: A Raisin in the Sun in englischer Sprache ist eine verlässliche und bewährte Textanalyse und Interpretationshilfe für Schüler und weiterführende Informationsquelle für Lehrer und andere Interessierte: verständlich, übersichtlich und prägnant. In einem Band bieten dir die Königs Erläuterungen alles, was du zur Vorbereitung auf Referat, Klausur, Abitur oder Matura benötigst. Das spart dir lästiges Recherchieren und kostet weniger Zeit zur Vorbereitung. Alle wichtigen Infos zur Interpretation... - von der ausführlichen Inhaltsangabe über Aufbau, Personenkonstellation, Stil und Sprache bis zu Interpretationsansätzen - Abituraufgaben mit Musterlösungen ... sowohl kurz als auch ausführlich ... - Die Schnellübersicht fasst alle wesentlichen Infos zu Werk und Autor und Analyse zusammen. - Die Kapitelzusammenfassungen zeigen dir das Wichtigste eines Kapitels im Überblick - ideal auch zum Wiederholen. ... und klar strukturiert ... - Ein zweifarbiges Layout hilft dir Wesentliches einfacher und schneller zu erfassen. - Die Randspalte mit Schlüsselbegriffen ermöglichen dir eine bessere Orientierung. - Klar strukturierte Schaubilder verdeutlichen dir wichtige Sachverhalte auf einen Blick.
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KÖNIGS ERLÄUTERUNGEN SPEZIAL
Textanalyse und Interpretation zu
A RAISIN IN THE SUN
Analyse | Interpretation in englischer Sprache
Zitierte Ausgaben: Hansberry, Lorraine: A Raisin in the Sun. Stuttgart: Klett Sprachen / Vintage: New York, 2017.
Über den Autor dieser Erläuterung: Patrick Charles wurde 1973 in Bournemouth, Südengland, geboren und studierte englische Literatur an der Universität von Newcastle. 1993 zog er nach Berlin, wo er eine Ausbildung zum Buchhändler machte und zehn Jahre lang als Buchhändler arbeitete. Seit 2004 ist er als freiberuflicher Autor von Schulbüchern und Lernhilfen und als Übersetzer im Kulturbereich tätig. Er lebt mit seiner Familie in Berlin.
1. Auflage 2019
© 2019 by C. Bange Verlag, 96142 Hollfeld Alle Rechte vorbehalten! Titelabbildung: Sidney Poitier in der Verfilmung des Romans (1961). © picture alliance / Mary Evans Picture Library
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1. AT A GLANCE
2. Lorraine Hansberry: LIFE & WORKS
2.2 Contemporary Background
The USA after World War II
The Harlem Renaissance
Society and politics
Pan-Africanism: African-Americans and Africa
2.3 Notes on Other Important Works
1961 The screenplay of A Raisin in the Sun
1964 The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window
1969 To Be Young, Gifted and Black
1970 Les Blancs
3. ANALYSES AND INTERPRETATIONS
3.1 Origins and Sources
Politically active parents
Hansberry v. Lee
Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance
Scene 1 (p. 23)
Scene 2 (p. 54)
Scene 1 (p. 76)
Scene 2 (p. 96)
Scene 3 (p. 110)
Act III (p. 131)
Transitions within scenes
A breakdown of transitions within a scene
The Younger family
“Mama” Lena (p. 39)
Ruth (p. 24)
Walter Lee (p. 25)
Beneatha “Bennie” (p. 35)
Travis Willard (p. 25)
The other characters
Joseph Asagai (p. 60)
George Murchison (p. 79)
Karl Lindner (p. 113)
Mrs. Johnson (p. 98)
Bobo (p. 125)
“Big” Walter Younger (deceased)
Willie (Willy) Harris
Constellation of the characters
3.5 Notes on themes
Poverty and money
Family relationships and gender issues
Dreams, hopes, ambitions – the future
Race and identity
The philosophy of A Raisin in the Sun
3.6 Style and language
The language of plays, scripts and screenplays
The actors’ lines
Creative use of language in A Raisin in the Sun
The ”Raisin Cycle”
Lorraine Hansberry and Bobby Kennedy (1963)
Hansberry and the Town Hall forum (1964)
6. SAMPLE EXAM QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Task 1 **
Task 2 **
Task 3 **
Edition used for this study guide
About the author
About ARaisin in the Sun
Film A Raisin in the Sun
A note on Wikipedia as a research tool
This study guide to Lorraine Hansberry’s drama A Raisin in the Sun is designed to provide an easy-to-use overview of the structure, context, themes and characters of the play.
Part 2 takes a brief look at Lorraine Hansberry and her career.
Hansberry was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1930. Her parents both worked and were both active in pushing back against racism and discrimination.
A Raisin in the Sun was first performed on stage in 1959, the first play written by an African-American woman to ever be performed on Broadway, and was an instant success.
Part 3 provides analyses and interpretations of the play.
A Raisin in the Sun – Origins and Sources:
Hansberry’s play was influenced by her own experiences and her parents’ activism, by the Harlem Renaissance and the poet Langston Hughes, and the reality of life for African-Americans living in a big city like Chicago in the 1950s.
A Raisin in the Sun is about the Younger family – “Mama” Lena, her son Walter, his wife Ruth, and their son Travis, and Lena’s other child, her daughter Beneatha. They share an apartment in a poor district in Chicago. The family is about to receive a $10,000 pay-out from Mama’s dead husband’s life insurance, and the money causes trouble. Walter wants to invest in a liquor store with a shady friend, Willie Harris: Ruth and Mama want to invest in a nice house in a better part of town. A representative of the white residents of the area the Younger family wishes to move to tries to buy them off, not wanting black families to move into their neighbourhood. When the cheque arrives, Mama allows Walter to look after the majority of the money to help him fight off depression and a sense of being a failure. But he loses all of the money she gives him when Willie steals it. Luckily, Mama has saved the rest and made a down payment on the house in Clybourne Park. The family gets ready to move, deciding to defy the white residents and fight for their unity and happiness.
Raisin is a three-act play. The dramatic structure follows the classic development of build-up, climax and resolution.
The play is about the Younger family and a few important characters around them.
“Mama” Lena Younger is a widow. She is a strong, caring, loving figure who holds the family together.
Ruth Younger is a weary, prematurely aged housewife. She works non-stop and is showing signs of breaking under the pressure of her work, her difficult husband, and the fact that she is pregnant.
Walter Lee Younger is a bitter and frustrated young man in his 30s. He is intense and his sister describes him as an “elaborate neurotic”.
Beneatha Younger is Walter’s sister. She is an educated, interesting woman who is determined to explore her potential and express herself.
Travis Willard Younger is the 10-year old son of Ruth and Walter. He is a lively, charming boy.
Joseph Asagai is a sophisticated Nigerian student who is friends with Beneatha. He has a strong influence on her interest in Africa and her African heritage.
George Murchison is a wealthy, middle-class young black man who is courting Beneatha. She finds him shallow.
Karl Lindner is the representative of the white residents’ association of Clybourne Park. He has been sent to the Younger family to persuade them not to buy the house there: the residents don’t want black people living there.
Other characters like Bobo, Mrs. Johnson or Willie Harris.
The major themes we will look at in this study guide are racial identity (including white-black racism and African/African-American issues): family relationships and gender equality; social issues like poverty and ghettoes; and the important theme of dreams, faith and hope.
Style and Language:
We have to deal with two distinct categories of language: the stage directions and the lines.
We will look at the film in this chapter and at the continuing story of the Younger family by other authors.
Lorraine Hansberry (1930–1965)© picture alliance/Everett Collection
Chicago, Illinois (USA)
On May 19th Lorraine was born. Her parents were Carl (a real estate broker) and Nannie (a local activist). Lorraine was the youngest of four children.
Carl Hansberry bought a house in the Washington Park Subdivisions area on Chicago’s South Side. The mostly white neighbours tried to legally force the Hansberry family out of their house. Carl Hansberry took the case all the way to the US Supreme Court, where he won the right to live there with his family (see Hansberry v. Lee, p. 36).
March 17: Carl Hansberry died in Mexico. He was there looking for a new home for his family. He had wanted to remove them from the pervasive racism in the USA.
Lorraine graduated from high school, and went on to study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She worked on the presidential campaign of the Progressive Party candidate Henry A. Wallace.
Summer: Lorraine studied painting at the University of Guadalajara.
Lorraine moved to New York to become a writer. She moved to Harlem and became politically active: Sie worked at the Freedom newspaper and met Black Pan-Africanists.
June 20: Lorrain marries the Jewish songwriter and activist Robert Nemiroff.
Nemiroff was earning good money and Lorraine was able to focus on writing full time. It was around this time that Lorraine began working on A Raisin in the Sun.
Lorraine published two letters to the house magazine of The Daughters of Bilitis, a lesbian activist group. This and other circumstantial evidence has led many students of Hansberry’s life to conclude that she was secretly lesbian: whatever the truth may have been, she was a vocal campaigner against homophobia and for civil rights for gays and lesbians. Around this time she also separated from her husband.
March 11: A Raisin in the Sun is performed for the first time on Broadway in the Ethel Barrymore Theater. This first production later moved to the Belasco Theater where it continued to run until June 1960, after 530 performances.New York Drama Critics Circle named it the best play of 1959.
The film version of A Raisin in the Sun is released. Lorraine also wrote the screenplay. For more about the film, see the chapter on interpretations in this study guide (p. 100).
Lorraine divorced from her husband, but they remained close. In this year she was also diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
January 12: Lorraine Hansberry died of cancer. She was buried on January 15 in Croton-on-Harlem, New York.
The play is adapted for American TV with the cast of the 2004 stage revival and is quite successful. The cast includes famous rapper/producer/media celebrity Sean (Puffy) Combs.
A Raisin in the Sun was written against the background of an interesting time in US history and culture. The country was wealthy and powerful following the Second World War: industrialisation, consumerism and mass culture had become dominant forces which were reshaping the world; and capitalism and Communism were squaring off on the world stage, with America emerging as a major superpower. Within America, we are in the 1950s, on the eve of the most famous era in the history of the civil rights movement, during a critical and traumatic time for African-Americans as their leaders and activists struggled for equality. Culturally, the after-effects of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s/1930s are important, and socially we must look at issues of segregation, zoned housing policies in cities, poverty and equality. One further point we will look at in this chapter is the relationship between African-Americans and their African heritage and origins.
The USA after World War II
The play A Raisin in the Sun is set in a major industrial city in the US in the years following the Second World War. This is the age of the superpowers, as the war had left two monolithic powers facing each other across the globe – the forces of capitalism and democracy, led by the USA, and the Communist bloc, dominated by the Soviet Union.
America in the 1950s was economically, politically and militarily a global player of unprecedented power. The country was rich, and its rapidly growing “soft” power – meaning culture – was unequalled, with American-bred products like rock and roll music, Hollywood cinema, Coca Cola and fast food becoming every bit as important to America’s global power as the more concrete factors such as nuclear weapons, powerful industries and limitless reserves of cash.
Despite the power and wealth of the United States, it remained a country with deep social divisions, in particular when it came to racial injustice and inequality, an original sin with which the country has never really come to terms. As the idealistic, utopian promise of the other major ideology of the late 19th into the 20th century, socialism was very appealing to many African-American intellectuals descended from those enslaved due to capitalist values, and continued, long after the end of slavery, to be economically and socially oppressed and exploited in a capitalist democracy.
Capitalism, mass-produced culture, consumerism and materialism were dominant forces in American culture, but there have always been movements and groups within American society which have questioned or outright rejected this mainstream. We can see how Hansberry questions these forces too in Raisin, with Beneatha’s rejection of George’s shallowness and materialism, and the final realisation that the family’s spiritual health and happiness and union is more important than money. The character of Joseph also poses questions about the presumed supremacy of American society and values. These issues, this discontent with the status quo of capitalist white-dominated America, has been a constant presence throughout the country’s history, because this status quo produces inequality. The ongoing historical effort to correct this inequality is called the civil rights movement.
The civil rights movement is the name given to a long, long process through American history aimed at establishing equal rights for African-Americans. The goal was (and remains) equal rights to vote, to live and to work how and where one wishes, to essentially enjoy all of the legal and constitutional rights promised to all American citizens. This movement has been and continues to be a struggle against a white-dominated social order. The accomplishments and victories of the civil rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s are the most historically famous, with magnetic, crucial figures like Dr Martin Luther King Jr.and MalcolmX providing important focal points for the various social, political and geographical issues. When Hansberry wrote Raisin, King was still alive and Malcolm had yet to emerge: The Black Power movement and militant organisations like the Black Panther Party were products of the 1960s, coming into being as a reaction to the increasingly brutal police and state efforts to suppress the civil rights movement.
Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X (1964).© picture alliance/Everett Collection
The civil rights movement was not only fought by charismatic leaders or militant street-level groups. It was also a grinding, continuous legal struggle within the existing power structures, an ongoing effort to win for African-Americans the recognition, security and equality all American citizens should have. These legal efforts are relevant to Hansberry’s life and work, as her father was involved in a landmark legal case concerning housing rights for African-Americans (see the chapter in this study guide on Origins & Sources for more on this issue, p. 36).
The Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance is named for the largely black neighbourhood of Harlem, in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. It was also called the ‘New Negro’ or ‘Black’ Renaissance. It refers to a period of intense cultural activity by black American artists through the 1920s and into the 1930s. The movement was significant for the new, collective approach and for its emphasis on black Americans’ African heritage.
The importance of the collectivist approach was basically the idea that there is strength in numbers. Whereas earlier black writers had been individuals struggling to find a way to have their voices heard, the Harlem scene encouraged groups of people to come together to assist one another in their creative endeavours, supporting their writing or music or art in collaboratively organised galleries, readings, newspapers, performances, et cetera. There was huge potential for the fertile cross-pollination of ideas and techniques and energies, not just within one medium, like poetry, but across various media, as can be seen with the influence of jazz music on the poetry of Langston Hughes.
The other equally important development was the attention paid to the African origins of African-America. This was not an easy or an obvious topic. The cultural conditions under which black Americans had been living for centuries bred submission and self-negation: politically voiceless, treated as subhuman, abused and discriminated against well into the 20th century, the blacks of America faced enormous pressure from the dominant white culture to reject their identity and their heritage. An uncomfortable middle ground for what Beneatha calls “assimilationist” blacks (p. 63) is to try to conform to white middle class society. Despite knowing that a racist, predominantly white society will never accept them as equals, the “assimilationist” blacks reject and mock the mythical Africa of their distant past and embrace the materialist values of modern capitalist America. This is represented in Raisin by the figure of George Murchison, and the antidote comes in the form of Joseph Asagai.
The major literary figures of the Harlem Renaissance include Jean Toomer, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Countee Cullen (there were many, many more writers, poets, musicians and artists who belonged to the scene). Of these, Langston Hughes had the most direct and obvious influence on Lorraine Hansberry and A Raisin in the Sun, as the title of the play is taken from a line a poem of his (for more on this see the chapter in this study guide on Origins & Sources, p. 38).
Although the Harlem Renaissance as a defined period of focussed cultural activity was over by the mid-1930s, it was a genuine renaissance – literally, rebirth – in that it inspired new vitality, focus and areas to explore for African-American culture. Its echoes were felt for decades to follow and its themes continue to be relevant and fertile to this day.
Society and politics
The critical conflict in the plot of A Raisin in the Sun is the offer made by the white residents of Clybourne Park to buy back the Younger family’s house. The residents unspoken fear is that the presence of a black family will lower the attractiveness of the neighbourhood and therefore make their own property less valuable. This is one example of de facto racial segregation (as opposed to de jure).
De facto and de jure
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