A Raisin in the Sun By Lorraine Hansberry Study Help Essay Questions

1. In literature, as in life, a character may search for a better way of life. Show how two characters from A Raisin in the Sun are searching for a better way of life. Explain what each character is hoping to gain through this search and discuss the ways in which each character attempts to bring about a change in his or her life.


2. Discuss the ways in which the setting of Raisin has a profound effect upon two of the characters.

3. If people can be divided into three groups — those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened — apply each of these to the three characters in Raisin who respectively prove that this is so.

4. Often, pressure from other people or from outside forces might compel a person to take an action that he or she might not have taken ordinarily. Discuss a character from Raisin who was pressured into taking an action that he or she might not have taken on his or her own.

5. Show how Raisin deals with the generation gap — the problems that the older generation has in dealing with the younger generation and vice versa.

6. Discuss the ways in which two characters in Raisin have made adjustments to negative aspects of their environment. These adjustments might be to the character's physical surroundings, to other people, or to the customs and traditions of the society in which they live.

7. Sometimes something as seemingly trivial as a meeting or a conversation between two people can have a lasting effect upon the life of one or even of both of them. Discuss how either a seemingly unimportant meeting or a casual conversation brings about a significant change in the life of one of the characters in Raisin.

8. Sometimes in one work of literature, we might find two characters who contrast markedly from one another. Discuss two characters from Raisin who are the opposite of each other in their views, beliefs, and philosophy of life.

9. In literature, as in life, a character might feel trapped. Discuss a character from Raisin who feels trapped and give examples of the ways in which this character chooses to deal with those feelings.

10. Discuss a character from Raisin who changes significantly, telling specifically of the forces that bring about this change. How does this character relate to the other characters before the change and how does this character relate to the other characters after the change?

11. Most people define loneliness as being alone, but a person might experience loneliness even when surrounded by other people. A person can be lonely if his/her ideas, feelings, or circumstances are different from those around them. Discuss a character from Raisin who experiences loneliness because of the differences in his/her ideas, feelings, or circumstances.

12. Often, in life, a situation may reach a "point of no return" — the point after which the life of a person can never be the same. Describe such a turning point for a character in Raisin.

13. Add another ending to the already existing ending of Raisin. Describe what you think happens next — after the Youngers have left their Southside Chicago apartment and have moved into their new house. You might write a composition or you may wish to continue in Hansberry's genre, using the dialogue of the characters to show your plot.

14. Noting Lorraine Hansberry's unique writing style, compare Walter Lee's imitation of a subservient, stereotypical begging "darky," (the heartbreaking speech he plans to deliver to Lindner in order to regain the lost money) with the speech that Walter Lee actually gives when Lindner arrives. How are they different in language? What is Hansberry's point in having Walter Lee practice one speech and then say something completely different?

15. After reading a full-length biography of Langston Hughes, show how he might have had a profound effect on Lorraine Hansberry's writing of A Raisin in the Sun.

16. After reading a full-length biography of Lorraine Hansberry, discuss the ways in which events of her own life are interwoven into her play A Raisin in the Sun.

17. Research the following events of 1955 and tell how each might have contributed to Lorraine Hansberry's political philosophy: the arrest of Rosa Parks; Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka; and the murder of Emmett Till.

18. In order to be more aware of the historical events surrounding the opening of Raisin on Broadway, summarize the headlines of The New York Times for March 11, 1959 (the date Raisin opened on Broadway); also summarize a full-length article from Life magazine for that week; and summarize an article from Ebony magazine for that month.

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