A raisin in the Sun questions – Act I

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A Raisin in the Sun questions – Act I Answer using complete sentences

  1. Describe the Younger home. How are the furnishings described? What does this say about their apartment? The furnishings are run down and worn just like their apartment

  2. What is the setting for 1.1? Sometime between WWII and the present, Chicago’s Southside, morning in the Younger apartment

  3. What kind of life has Ruth had? How do we know this? Ruth has had a disappointing and hard life; it says that she wears this look on her face

  4. What is everyone in the family concerned with? When is it supposed to come? Check; it is to come on Saturday

  5. What does Travis want that his mama won’t give him? Does he get it? How? He needs .50. He does get it from his dad

  6. What kind of business deal does Walter want to enter into with his friends? He wants to open a liquor store

  7. What does Walter argue is the problem with African American women/wives? They don’t support their husbands, and they are small minded

  8. What kind of bathroom does the family use? Community bathroom – they share it with two floors of people

  9. How did they get the money? The death of Mama’s husband, Walter’s father – “Big Walter”

  10. Describe Mama (pg. 12) she is described as strong and full bodied; she has overcome and adjusted to many things in life; she is a “beautiful woman”

  11. How does Mama feel about Walter’s business deal? She does not agree with it

  12. Why does Mama say Ruth should call in and say she has the flu? This is something that white people understand

  13. How much money does the family get? $10,000

  14. What does Mama want to do with the money? Put some away for Beneatha’s schooling and the rest as a down payment on a home

  15. How does Ruth describe life? How does this reflect society and how it relates to the Younger family at the time? A barrel of disappointments; this is what many African American’s felt about life – they had hopes and dreams, but they were crushed by society

  16. What do the women feel is George Murchinson’s best quality? He is rich

  17. To what does Mama compare the spirit of her children? She compares it to her plant.

  18. What is the setting of 1.11? Saturday morning; they are cleaning

  19. What is wrong with Ruth? Is she excited? She is pregnant; she is not excited

  20. For what is Beneatha searching? Her identity

  21. What issue in society is Hansberry addressing when Beneatha and Asagai talk about their relationship (pg. 31)? Women were expected to return the feelings that men had for them; women needed and could not live without men

  22. What does “Alaiyo” mean? What does this say about Beneatha’s character? One for whom bread-food isn’t enough; Beneatha is high maintenance and expects too much

  23. How do they react when Mama gets the check? Be specific and explain. Mama is scared – unsure if the amount is correct; Travis is excited as is Ruth and Beneatha

  24. What are Walter and Mama’s definitions/views of life? Mama – life is freedom; Walter – life is money

  25. What is Ruth considering in regards to her pregnancy? An abortion

ACT II, Scene I

  1. When does Act II begin? What is Beneatha doing as the first scene opens? What is she wearing? She is wearing ceremonial clothing from Africa and doing a tribal dance to welcome the men back home.

  2. Why does Walter join her in the dance? OMIT!!!!!!!

  3. How does the arrival of George Murchison change the mood of the scene? It is playful

  4. Beneatha calls George an “assimilationist.” What does she mean by that? She means that he does what everyone else is doing. He does not respect or appreciate his history.

  5. What is Walter’s attitude toward George? He is very rude to George, and he is angry that George has no idea what it is like to be poor and have to work for things.

  6. What is George’s attitude toward Walter? He looks down upon Walter; he has no time for him.

  7. How does Ruth try to ease Walter’s mood? She tries to be soothing and calm him down. She tries to encourage him without bending to his will.

  8. What evidence is there that Walter and Ruth still love each other, despite their problems? He goes to her after he is mean to her.

  9. What news does Mama break to the family in this scene? She has put a down payment on a house.

  10. How do Ruth and Walter react to Mama’s news? What does Walter accuse Mama of? Ruth is excited; Walter is angry.

ACT II, Scene II

  1. When does Scene II begin? In what condition is the apartment when Beneatha arrives home from a date with George? There are packing crates throughout the apartment, and the two of them seem aggravated with each other.

  2. What sort of woman does George say he wants Beneatha to be? And why doesn’t George want to listen to Beneatha’s ideas? He wants her to be like women as supposed to be in society. He feels that Beneatha is radical with his thoughts and that they are funny.

  3. When Beneatha asks George why he goes to college, what is his reply? He goes because that is what he is supposed to do – not because he wants to.

  4. After George leaves, Mama asks Beneatha if she had a good time on her date. Beneatha replies that George is a fool. Why does she say that? She says he is a fool because she feels he has not respect for himself and his culture.

  5. Why does Beneatha thank her mother? For understanding her and realizing how she feels.

  6. How does Ruth find out that Walter has not been to work for three days? What has Walter been doing instead of going to work? His boss calls – he has been driving around the city.

  7. How does Mama react to Walter’s explanation of where he’s been? What does she give Walter, and how does Walter react to being entrusted with it? She says that he should think of his family and not be riding around aimlessly. She gives him the remainder of the money, and he is shocked. He plans to give the money to Willy

  8. When Walter tells Travis that he wants to hand him the world, what sort of life is Walter envisioning for his family? He is envisioning a bright future for his son. He wants to be able to provide for him and give him things.


  1. Beneatha and Ruth are busy packing when Ruth tells Beneatha how happy she is with the change in Walter. What are three examples that show Walter has changed in the past week? He isn’t mad with Ruth; he dances with her; he seems a little more pleasant with Beneatha

  2. Why does Mr. Lindner come to the Youngers’ apartment? He comes on behalf of the welcoming committee of Clybourne Park

  3. Why don’t the residents of Clybourne Park what the Youngers in their neighborhood? They feel the Youngers should stay with “their kind.” The neighborhood feels that everyone would be happy if things stayed the way they are. Lindner offers them payment for their down payment and a little more money.

  4. How does Walter react to Lindner’s offer? He is insulted by this and asks Lindner to leave.

  5. What is significant about Mama’s preparing her plant for the move as she listens to the details of the encounter with Lindner? The plant symbolizes her dreams, and in taking the plant with her, she is taking it to the dream that has become reality for her.

  6. How does Walter respond to Mama’s determination? He does seem a little doubtful, but he follows his mother’s lead.

  7. What gifts does the family give Mama? Why are the gifts appropriate? They give her gardening tools; she has always dreamed of having a garden.

  8. Why doesn’t Walter answer the door immediately when the bell rings? He knows who is at the door.

  9. Who is at the door? What news does this person bring, and how does Walter react to the news? Bobo is at the door, and he has come to tell him that Willie ran away with the money. Walter is blown away and confused by this information. He asks many questions to which Bobo has no answer.

  10. How does Mama react, and to whom does she turn in this time of trouble? She is angry with her son and feels helpless. She turns to God for strength.

Act III questions - Answer the following questions using complete sentences:

  1. When Asagai arrives at the apartment, how does his mood contract with Walter’s and Beneatha’s? He is very positive and is looking toward the future. Walter and Beneatha appear defeated.

  2. How has the loss of the money changed Beneatha’s optimism? What does she tell Asagai? What is Asagai’s response? She has given up and admits defeat. She tells Asagai there is no hope and everything is over. Asagai is very critical of Beneatha’s feelings and tells her if she has dreams and wants a positive future, she needs to make it herself. He also asks her to go to Africa with him.

  3. How does Asagai define idealists and realists? Which group does he prefer to be associated with? Idealists have dreams and go after them. Realists only see the circle of life and the things that are right in front of them. He would rather be an idealist.

  4. What alternative view of the future does Asagai offer to put Beneatha’s depression in perspective? Go to Africa with him.

  5. Asagai leaves and Walter comes into the living room. How does Beneatha attack Walter? What does Walter do? She attacks him by speaking down about who he is as a man. Walter ignores her and looks for something in the apartment.

  6. How has Mama’s physical appearance changed? Why does Mama put her plant back on the windowsill? She is depressed and seems defeated. Mama puts her plant in the window because she feels as if she is going nowhere.

  7. Who does Mama blame for the current situation, and how does she plan to deal with it? She blames herself for this because people have always accused her of dreaming too big.

  8. Up until now, Ruth has been the practical one. How does she react to Mama’s new attitude? She tries to lift Lena’s spirits. She doesn’t know what to think or how to really handle Mama’s new attitude.

  9. When Walter arrives back home, what does he say he has done? What does he plan to do? He has called Mr. Lindner, and the family is going to take the money that was offered to them.

  10. Describe Walter’s new view of life as being divided between the “takers” and the “tooken.” He feels that life is full of takers and tooken. His family has been, he feels, has always been “tooken” From this point forward, they are going to be “takers.”

  11. What does Mama mean when she tells Walter that if he takes Lindner’s money he will have nothing left inside? He will loose his dignity and pride of he takes the money.

  12. Beneatha says Walter is no brother of hers. What lesson does Mama have to remind Beneatha about? Mama tells her she has no right to feel that way or say that about her brother. Regardless of what has happened, she has always taught Beneatha to love.

  13. When Lindner arrives, why does Mama insist that Travis stay in the room? She wants him to learn from his father

  14. What does Walter tell Lindner? Why? He talks to him about his father and how he worked all his life for others. He continues to tell Lindner that his family is not going to take his money because his father earned the house for the family.

  15. Why does Lindner decide to appeal to Mama? What is her response? He appeals to her because he says she is older and wiser. He feels that she will bend to the demands of the neighborhood.

  16. What is the importance of having Mama return to the empty apartment to grab her plant? That plant represents her dreams and the spirit of her family. Wherever she goes and the family goes, so does the plant. She isn’t one to walk out on her family or her dreams.

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