As one of the most important American plays of the 20th century, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry is filled with powerful and thought-provoking lines. These quotes capture the struggles, dreams, and resilience of the Younger family as they navigate the challenges of racism, poverty, and the pursuit of a better life.
One of the most memorable quotes from A Raisin in the Sun comes from the character of Mama, also known as Lena Younger. In Act 2, Scene 2, Mama expresses her hopes and dreams for her family, saying, “Seem like God didn’t see fit to give the black man nothing but dreams – but He did give us children to make them dreams seem worth while.” This quote encapsulates Mama’s belief in the power of dreams and the importance of family in achieving them.
Another impactful quote from the play comes from Walter Lee Younger, Mama’s son, as he faces the challenges of racial discrimination and economic inequality. In Act 2, Scene 1, Walter expresses his frustration, saying, “We one group of men tied to a race of women with small minds.” This quote highlights the tension between Walter and his wife, Beneatha, as they navigate their different aspirations and perspectives in a society that often diminishes their potential.
A Raisin in the Sun also offers profound insights into the human experience, beyond the specific challenges faced by the Younger family. In Act 3, Scene 1, Beneatha delivers a powerful monologue about identity and self-discovery, stating, “I’m not talking about me. I’m talking about the identity of the Negro… which is being systematically rejected.” This quote speaks to the larger theme of identity and the struggle for acceptance and equality faced by marginalized communities in America.
These quotes from A Raisin in the Sun demonstrate the enduring power and relevance of Lorraine Hansberry’s groundbreaking play. They challenge readers to reflect on the complexities of racial and social dynamics in America and inspire us to continue fighting for equality and justice.
Discover the Power and Resilience of Dreams
One of the central themes in “A Raisin in the Sun” is the power and resilience of dreams. Throughout the play, the characters face numerous challenges and obstacles that threaten to crush their dreams, but they persist in pursuing their goals and aspirations. This determination highlights the strength and resilience of the human spirit.
1. “Mama, something is happening between Walter and me. I don’t know what it is—but he needs something—something I can’t give him anymore” (Act 1, Scene 1).
This quote, spoken by Ruth Younger, reflects the struggles faced in a marriage where dreams and aspirations are unfulfilled. It highlights the power of dreams to create tension and strain in relationships.
2. “Beneatha, you don’t have to act right now. You can think yourself crude and heathenish about Africa all over again. But right now—while your mother—
—is in there measuring her carpet and Travis is waiting for the next new all-day sucker from the world—they want you to run out and see that Nigerian”— (Act 1, Scene 1).
This quote, spoken by Walter Lee Younger, illustrates the clash between dreams and the practicalities of everyday life. It shows how dreams can sometimes be seen as a distraction or hindrance to immediate responsibilities.
3. “You read books—you sit up here and you spin your… your theories, ’bout how come the colored woman ain’t nothin’. Then you get up and write it out same as somebody come along and put a mirror in front of your face and you ashamed ’cause you done believed it all” (Act 2, Scene 1).
This quote, spoken by Walter Lee Younger to his sister, Beneatha, challenges the prejudices and societal beliefs that can hinder dreams. It highlights the power of self-reflection and the ability to break free from limiting beliefs.
4. “Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most; when they done good and made things easy for everybody? Well then, you ain’t through learning—because that ain’t the time at all. It’s when he’s at his lowest and can’t believe in hisself ’cause the world done whipped him so!” (Act 3, Scene 3).
This quote, spoken by Lena Younger (Mama), emphasizes the importance of supporting and loving someone during their most difficult times. It highlights the resilience of dreams in the face of adversity.
Through these powerful quotes, “A Raisin in the Sun” reminds us of the power and resilience of dreams. Despite the challenges and setbacks, the characters in the play push forward, determined to achieve their aspirations. It serves as a powerful reminder to us all to never give up on our dreams, for they have the power to transform our lives.
Explore the Impact of Racism and Poverty
Racism and poverty are two major themes in A Raisin in the Sun that have a profound impact on the characters and their experiences. Lorraine Hansberry explores these themes through various plotlines and character interactions, shedding light on the challenges faced by African Americans in the 1950s.
- “What you ain’t never understood is that I ain’t got nothing, don’t own nothing, ain’t never really wanted nothing that wasn’t for you.” (Ruth, Act 1, Scene 1) – Ruth expresses her frustration with the limitations imposed on her by racist systems and the sacrifices she has made for her family.
- “You read books—about revolutions and about rising up—but it ain’t what you read; it’s what you think.” (Mama, Act 2, Scene 2) – Mama emphasizes the importance of challenging the racist status quo through independent thinking and personal growth.
- “Ain’t you bitter, man? Ain’t you just about had it yet? Don’t you see no stars gleaming that you can’t reach out and grab?” (Walter, Act 2, Scene 3) – Walter expresses his frustration and bitterness towards the racist society that denies him the opportunities to achieve his dreams and aspirations.
- “We one group of men tied to a race of women with small minds.” (Walter, Act 1, Scene 1) – Walter reflects on the poverty that has limited his family’s opportunities and perpetuates a sense of hopelessness.
- “Son, how come you talk so much ’bout money?” (Beneatha, Act 1, Scene 1) – Beneatha questions the importance placed on money in a society that prioritizes material wealth over personal growth and happiness.
- “He finally come into his manhood today, didn’t he? Kind of like a rainbow after the rain.” (Mama, Act 3, Scene 1) – Mama celebrates the triumph over poverty as her family finally moves into a bigger and better home, symbolizing progress and resilience.
The intertwining themes of racism and poverty in A Raisin in the Sun highlight the barriers faced by African Americans and the resilience they exhibit in the face of adversity. Through the struggles and triumphs of the Younger family, Hansberry invites readers to reflect on the impact of these societal issues and the importance of perseverance and unity in the pursuit of a better future.
Witness the Strength of a Family Bond
The story of A Raisin in the Sun revolves around the Younger family, and one of the central themes of the play is the strength of their bond. Throughout the story, the Younger family faces various challenges and obstacles, but their love and support for one another help them overcome these difficulties. Here are some quotes that illustrate the strength of their family bond:
“Mama, something is happening between Walter and me. I don’t know what it is – but he needs something – something I can’t give him anymore. He needs this chance, Lena.” (Act 1, Scene 2) – Ruth says this to Mama, expressing her concern for Walter’s well-being and acknowledging the importance of supporting him in his dreams.
“Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most? When they done good and made things easy for everybody? Well then, you ain’t through learning – because that ain’t the time at all. It’s when he’s at his lowest and can’t believe in hisself ‘cause the world done whipped him so!” (Act 3, Scene 2) – Mama explains to Beneatha the importance of supporting and loving someone even during their toughest times, emphasizing the strength of their family bond.
“We one group of men tied to a race of women with small minds.” (Act 2, Scene 1) – This quote from Walter shows his frustration with the limited opportunities and prejudices they face as African Americans. Despite these challenges, the family remains united and determined.
“Oh—So now it’s life. Money is life. Once upon a time freedom used to be life – now it’s money. I guess the world really do change…” (Act 2, Scene 1) – Beneatha expresses her disappointment with the world’s changing values, but the family continues to hold onto their principles and support one another.
The Younger family’s resilience and unwavering support for one another is a testament to the strength of their family bond. They may face hardships, but their love and unity give them the strength to overcome any obstacles that come their way.
Uncover the Desire for a Better Life
In “A Raisin in the Sun,” the characters share a common desire for a better life. This powerful theme is evident throughout the play, as the Younger family navigates their hopes and dreams against the backdrop of racial segregation and poverty.
1. “I want so many things that they are driving me kind of crazy.” – Walter Younger (Act I, Scene I)
This quote reflects the deep yearning Walter has for a better life. He is tired of the limitations placed on him by society and his own circumstances. It reveals his frustration and the desperation he feels to escape from his current situation.
2. “Sometimes it’s like I can see the future stretched out in front of me, just plain as day.” – Beneatha Younger (Act II, Scene I)
Beneatha’s desire for a better life is reminiscent of Walter’s, but her perspective is rooted in her intellectual pursuits. She dreams of becoming a doctor and contributing to society in a meaningful way. This quote showcases her determination and her belief in her own potential.
3. “Mama, something is happening between Walter and me. I don’t know what it is – but he needs something – something I can’t give him anymore. He needs this chance, Lena.” – Ruth Younger (Act II, Scene II)
Ruth’s acknowledgment of the desire for a better life extends beyond her own aspirations. She recognizes that Walter’s dreams are integral to his happiness and well-being. This quote highlights the sacrifices she is willing to make to support her husband’s quest for a better future.
4. “I’m telling you to be the head of this family from now on like you supposed to be.” – Lena Younger (Act III, Scene I)
Lena, also known as Mama, is a strong matriarch who wants the best for her family. Her desire for a better life is rooted in her belief in the importance of family unity and responsibility. This quote demonstrates her expectation for Walter to step up and lead their family towards a brighter future.
Overall, “A Raisin in the Sun” portrays the universal desire for a better life. Through the characters’ dreams and struggles, the play explores the themes of hope, resilience, and the pursuit of happiness in the face of adversity.
Examine the Struggle for Identity
One of the central themes in “A Raisin in the Sun” is the struggle for identity. Throughout the play, each character grapples with their individual sense of self and their place in the world. Lorraine Hansberry explores this struggle by delving into the unique experiences and aspirations of each character.
Walter Lee Younger:
In his journey for identity, Walter Lee Younger desires to break free from the limitations imposed on him by society and find his purpose. He dreams of becoming a successful businessman and providing a better life for his family. However, as the play progresses, Walter Lee’s struggle intensifies when he faces the prospect of sacrificing his moral compass for financial gain.
Lena Younger, also known as Mama, showcases a different facet of the struggle for identity. As the matriarch of the Younger family, Mama carries the weight of her ancestors’ struggles and desires to preserve their heritage. She hopes to use the insurance money from her deceased husband’s policy to move her family out of the cramped apartment and into a house where they can find a sense of pride and stability. Her strong belief in God and family traditions shape her sense of self.
Beneatha Younger, Walter Lee’s sister, is a progressive and independent woman. She seeks to define her identity by pursuing higher education and embracing her African roots. Through her studies and exposure to different worldviews, Beneatha questions traditional notions of identity and explores her own identity as a black woman in a predominantly white society.
Ruth Younger, Walter Lee’s wife, struggles with her identity as a wife, mother, and woman in a society that often diminishes her worth. She experiences personal growth and empowerment when she finds out that she is pregnant and decides to keep the baby against her husband’s wishes, asserting her autonomy and rejecting societal expectations.
Travis Younger, the Younger’s young son, also struggles with his identity as he navigates childhood and seeks to understand the world around him. As he witnesses the dreams and aspirations of his family members, he grapples with his own desires and ambitions, eventually yearning for a brighter future.
Overall, the characters in “A Raisin in the Sun” face various struggles for identity, whether it’s breaking free from societal limitations, preserving heritage and traditions, embracing personal growth and education, asserting autonomy, or discovering one’s ambitions. These struggles highlight the complexity of identity and the ways in which individuals navigate societal expectations to find their true selves.
Experience the Fight for Equality and Justice
Throughout the play A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry explores the themes of equality and justice. The characters in the play face numerous challenges and fight against societal norms to achieve their dreams and secure their rights.
Below are some powerful quotes that highlight the struggles and determination of the characters in their fight for equality and justice:
- “I want so many things that they are driving me kind of crazy…Mama doesn’t even look at things that she can’t have…but it’s life, Mama!” (Act 1, Scene 1) – Beneatha expresses her desire for a better life and refuses to settle for less. She recognizes that pursuing dreams and fighting for what one believes in is an essential part of life.
- “There is always something left to love. And if you ain’t learned that, you ain’t learned nothing.” (Act 2, Scene 3) – Mama emphasizes the importance of love and empathy in fighting for justice. She believes that love can bridge the gaps between people and help build a more just society.
- “We come from people who had a lot of pride. I mean we are very proud people.” (Act 3, Scene 1) – Asagai reminds Beneatha of their African heritage and the importance of embracing their cultural pride. This quote highlights the need for self-acceptance and the fight for equality while staying true to one’s roots.
- “A fellow wants a world appropriate to his ambitions!” (Act 3, Scene 1) – Walter expresses his frustration with the limitations placed on him and his dreams due to racial inequality. This quote reflects the larger struggle for equality and justice faced by African Americans during the time the play is set.
The play A Raisin in the Sun serves as a powerful reminder of the ongoing fight for equality and justice. The characters’ experiences and struggles resonate with audiences, encouraging them to reflect on their own roles in advocating for a more equitable society.
Reflect on the Challenges of Social Inequality
Social inequality, a prevalent issue in society, is a central theme in “A Raisin in the Sun.” Lorraine Hansberry’s play illuminates the struggles faced by African Americans living in a racially segregated society during the 1950s. The following quotes with page numbers highlight the challenges of social inequality depicted in the play:
- “Walter: And we have decided to move into our house because my father – my father – he earned it for us brick by brick. We don’t want to make no trouble for nobody or fight no causes…But I think we can all wait for the civil rights.
- “Beneatha: …I’m afraid sometimes that he (Asagai)…he really don’t believe there is any real progress being made by colored people in this country.”
- “Asagai: Why must everyone on earth want to be like the white man?…Isn’t there always something left for the colored man to say?…Doesn’t the colored man have a soul?”
- “Mama: …we one group of men tied to a race of women with small minds…”
- “Walter: …we have decided to move into our house because my father – my father – he earned it for us brick by brick…We come from people who had a lot of pride”
(Act I, Scene 2, page 40)
This quote demonstrates the internal conflict within Walter, who feels torn between his aspirations for financial success and his desire to fight for civil rights. He struggles with the idea of waiting for equality instead of taking immediate action.
(Act III, Scene 1, page 125)
Beneatha’s statement reflects the disillusionment felt by African Americans regarding the progress being made towards achieving equality. It underscores the skepticism and frustration with the slow pace of change.
(Act III, Scene 1, page 132)
Asagai questions the societal pressure to conform to white ideals and emphasizes the need to preserve African American culture and identity. He challenges the notion that the colored man is lesser and asserts the importance of recognizing their worth.
(Act III, Scene 2, page 141)
Mama’s statement sheds light on the double burdens faced by African American women. Not only do they experience racial discrimination, but they also face the limitations placed upon them by societal expectations.
(Act III, Scene 3, page 150)
This quote highlights the resilience and determination of the Younger family, who strive to overcome the challenges imposed by social inequality. Despite their struggles, they cling to their sense of pride and fight for a better future.
“A Raisin in the Sun” serves as a powerful reminder of the obstacles faced by marginalized communities and the resilience required to navigate a society plagued by social inequality.
Share in the Hope for a Brighter Future
As the characters in A Raisin in the Sun navigate the challenges of racial discrimination and limited opportunities, they are fueled by the hope for a brighter future. This theme of hope is evident throughout the play, and these powerful quotes with page numbers exemplify the characters’ determination:
- “Mama, something is happening between Walter and me. I don’t know what it is – but he needs something – something I can’t give him anymore.” (Act I, Scene I)
- “I’m trying to talk to you ’bout myself and all you can say is eat them eggs and go to work.” (Act I, Scene I)
- “I been married eleven years and I got a boy who sleeps in the living room — and all I got to give him is stories about how rich white people live!” (Act I, Scene I)
- “We one group of men tied to a race of women with small minds.” (Act II, Scene III)
- “Son — what do you want to be?” (Act II, Scene II)
In this quote, Ruth expresses her concerns about the strained relationship between her and Walter. Despite their current difficulties, she still hopes for a better future for their marriage.
Walter’s frustration in this quote shows his desire to have meaningful conversations about his dreams and aspirations. He hopes for understanding and support from his family.
Beneatha’s frustration reflects her dreams of a better life and her determination not to settle for less. She hopes to break free from her current circumstances and pursue her own aspirations.
In this quote, Walter expresses his frustration with the limited opportunities and expectations placed on African Americans. He hopes for a future where these stereotypes and limitations no longer exist.
Mama’s question to Walter shows her belief in his potential and her hope that he will find his purpose and contribute to a better future for the family.
These quotes demonstrate the characters’ resilience and determination to rise above their current circumstances and reach for a brighter future. They serve as a reminder that hope is a powerful motivator in the face of adversity and can inspire us all to chase our dreams.
Question and answer:
What is the play “A Raisin in the Sun” about?
“A Raisin in the Sun” is a play by Lorraine Hansberry that tells the story of the Younger family, an African American family living in Chicago’s South Side in the 1950s. The play explores important themes such as racial and gender discrimination, the pursuit of dreams, and the importance of family unity.
Who wrote “A Raisin in the Sun”?
“A Raisin in the Sun” was written by Lorraine Hansberry, an African American playwright and activist. The play was first performed in 1959 and is considered a classic of American theater.
What are some powerful quotes from “A Raisin in the Sun”?
One powerful quote from “A Raisin in the Sun” is, “Life is too short to be living somebody else’s dream” (Page 132). This quote reflects the theme of pursuing one’s own dreams and desires rather than conforming to the expectations of others. Another powerful quote is, “Sometimes it’s like I can see the future stretched out in front of me – just plain as day” (Page 115). This quote highlights the hopes and aspirations of the characters and their belief in a better future.
What is the significance of the title “A Raisin in the Sun”?
The title “A Raisin in the Sun” comes from a line in Langston Hughes’ poem “Harlem,” which asks, “What happens to a dream deferred? / Does it dry up / like a raisin in the sun?” The title symbolizes the dreams and aspirations of the characters in the play and explores the consequences of delaying or sacrificing those dreams.
What is the role of gender in “A Raisin in the Sun”?
“A Raisin in the Sun” explores the role of gender in the 1950s, particularly through the character of Beneatha Younger. Beneatha is a strong-willed and independent woman who defies traditional gender roles by pursuing a career in medicine. Her character challenges societal expectations of women and highlights the importance of women’s empowerment and equality.
How does “A Raisin in the Sun” address racial discrimination?
“A Raisin in the Sun” addresses racial discrimination through the experiences of the Younger family. The play portrays the challenges and obstacles faced by African Americans in 1950s Chicago, including housing discrimination and limited opportunities. The characters confront racism and prejudice both externally, through encounters with white society, and internally, through their own beliefs and biases.
What are some of the main themes in “A Raisin in the Sun”?
Some of the main themes in “A Raisin in the Sun” include the pursuit of dreams and aspirations, the importance of family and unity, racial discrimination and identity, and the struggle for equality. The play explores these themes through the experiences and perspectives of the Younger family, highlighting the complexities of their lives and the broader social issues of the time.