A Raisin in the Sun

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What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

Harlem aka A Dream Deferred, Langston Hughes

A Raisin in the Sun is a play written by Lorraine Hansberry in the 1950s. It details the life and times of the Younger family, a poor black family living in a small apartment in Chicago. Due to the passing of the elder Mr. Younger, the family is now in the position of receiving a large welfare check. Each of the adult members of the family has an idea as to what he or she would like to do with this money, and over the next few weeks, it's shown how each character's hopes and dreams affect the other family members.

Notable for being the first play by a black woman to be shown on Broadway as well as the first play with a black director. Despite Hansberry's worries, the play was a huge success, and would have probably been Hansberry's big break had she not died a few years afterwards. Has been adapted into two Made for TV films (1989, 2008), one theatrical film (1961) and a 1973 musical, Raisin.

Tropes used in A Raisin in the Sun include:
  • Affectionate Parody: Clybourne Park, a Perspective Flip and a sort-of Distant Finale. And it's a musical.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The character of Mr. Johnson, at least in the original script. He doesn't show up at all in later versions of the story.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Beneatha.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Both Walter and Mama pass this when Willie Harris makes off with the money.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Anyone who saw this play at the Apollo Theater in the early 80's might have seen a 12-year-old Tupac Shakur playing Travis.
  • Fainting: Ruth does this in the first scene. It comes as a result of stress and pregnancy.
  • Foil: Joseph Asagai and George Murchison, Beneatha and Ruth.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Played straight with Ruth, who gets a down payment on an abortion when she finds out she's pregnant, but she ends up keeping the baby when the family gets a bigger house. Averted with the recent TV Movie, which removes this subplot entirely, due to... well, you know.
  • Gender Blender Name: Beneatha's nickname is Bennie.
  • The Ghost: Willie Harris
  • Important Haircut: Beneatha cuts her hair and lets it be natural when Asagai mentions that keeping it straightened is "mutilating" it.
  • Literary Allusion Title: The title comes from Langston Hughes' poem "Harlem," also known as "A Dream Deferred."
  • Narm: From the 1961 film, it's a little hard to take Karl Lindner seriously. Mainly because when he opens his mouth, most people can only think of Piglet.
  • Purple Prose: An odd case of a play doing this, if you read the script, you'll see that the stage directions and set descriptions are unusually detailed and precise.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Lena is a "Well Done, Daughter" Girl to Beneatha. She's also a "Well Done, Son" Girl to Walter, though it's not quite as severe.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: More like, What the FUCK, Walter? Yes, give every penny of the insurance check--including your sister's tuition which wasn't yours to gamble with--to some dude you barely know, who you DO know is not above a little crime. Yes, that will go perfectly.
    • Mama kind of counts too, for giving Walter Beneatha's tutition money, instead of to Beneatha herself.