Published: December 2011
A Raisin in the Sun is a classic American play- a groundbreaking 1950s civil rights drama and has a strong claim to be the greatest play of the black American experience. Deeply committed to the black struggle for equality and human rights, Lorraine Hansberry's brilliant career as a writer was cut short by her death when she was only 35. A Raisin in the Sun was the first play written by a black woman to be produced on Broadway and won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. Hansberry was the youngest and the first black writer to receive this award. She was also the first person to be called 'young, gifted and black'. The play is set in south side Chicago, where Walter Lee, a black chauffeur, dreams of a better life, and hopes to use his father's life insurance money to open a liquor store. His mother, who rejects the liquor business, uses some of the money to secure a proper house for the family. Mr Lindner, a representative of the all-white neighbourhood, tries to buy them out. Walter sinks the rest of the money into his business scheme, only to have it stolen by one of his partners. In despair Walter contacts Lindner, and almost begs to buy them out, but with the help of his wife, Walter finally finds a way to assert his dignity. Humane and heart-rending, the play depicts characters and a whole society with complexity and reality.This Student Edition features expert and helpful annotation, including a scene-by-scene summary, a detailed commentary on the dramatic, social and political context, and on the themes, characters, language and structure of the play, as well as a list of suggested reading and questions for further study and a review of performance history.