Racism's Enduring Relevance in 'A Raisin in the Sun'

Categories: A Raisin In The Sun


"A Raisin in the Sun" is a timeless classic penned by Lorraine Hansberry that delves into the struggles and aspirations of the Younger family, who find themselves in a racially segregated 1950s America. The play not only portrays the dreams of the Younger family but also highlights the pervasive theme of racism that significantly influences their lives. In this essay, we will critically examine the impact of racism on the Younger family and its relevance in today's society.

Historical Context

To fully appreciate the depth of racism portrayed in "A Raisin in the Sun," it's crucial to understand the historical context.

The 1950s and 1960s were marked by the Civil Rights Movement, a pivotal period in American history characterized by the fight for racial equality. This era was marred by segregation and discrimination, which heavily influenced the lives of African Americans, including the characters in the play.

The Younger Family's Dreams

The Younger family's dreams are at the heart of the play.

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They are a working-class African American family who receives a $10,000 insurance check after the death of Lena's husband. This windfall symbolizes their hopes for a better life. The family's initial optimism shines through as they envision using the money to escape their cramped apartment and achieve their dreams.

The Housing Discrimination

However, their dreams collide with the harsh reality of racism when Walter Lee attempts to invest the money in a house in a predominantly white neighborhood. The family faces blatant housing discrimination, as exemplified by Mr. Lindner's offer on behalf of the neighborhood's homeowners' association.

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This offer, essentially a bribe to prevent them from moving in, forces the Younger family to confront their own values and principles.

Racism's Impact on Individual Characters

Racism doesn't just affect the family as a whole; it also deeply impacts individual characters. Walter Lee struggles with self-worth as he grapples with the racism he faces daily. Beneatha explores her African heritage and identity in the midst of racial tensions. Lena, the family's matriarch, is determined to protect her family's dignity and make a better life for them despite the obstacles.

Resistance and Resilience

The Younger family's story is one of resistance and resilience. Despite the challenges and the temptation of Mr. Lindner's offer, Lena decides to move to the new house to secure a better future for her family. In a defining moment, Walter Lee ultimately rejects Mr. Lindner's offer, choosing dignity over financial gain. The family's unity in the face of racism showcases their resilience.

Contemporary Relevance

"A Raisin in the Sun" remains relevant today as it draws parallels between the racial struggles of the 1950s and ongoing racial issues in contemporary society. The play's themes continue to inspire discussions on racism, inequality, and the importance of pursuing dreams in the face of adversity.


In conclusion, "A Raisin in the Sun" is a poignant exploration of the impact of racism on the aspirations and struggles of the Younger family. The historical context, their dreams, housing discrimination, individual character experiences, resistance, and resilience all contribute to a powerful narrative. This play's enduring message of hope and resilience serves as a reminder of the importance of addressing racism in both literature and society. It challenges us to reflect on the progress made in the fight for racial equality and the work that remains to be done.

Updated: Jan 12, 2024
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Racism's Enduring Relevance in 'A Raisin in the Sun'. (2024, Jan 12). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/racisms-enduring-relevance-in-a-raisin-in-the-sun-essay

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