A Raisin in the Sun – Summary

Updated October 17, 2020

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A Raisin in the Sun – Summary essay

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The play is set in the humble but quaint household of Lena younger. She is an old widow and lives a quiet life with her son Walter and daughter Benethea. Walter is married to Ruth and has a son named Travis. Benethea on the other hand is a young and vibrant woman who dreams of becoming a doctor. The family is poor and can hardly make ends meet. They are hoping to cash in the insurance money of the dead patriach, Walter Senior which is worth ten thousand dollars. The family also feels victimized due to their race and the fact that white people still treated them as unequal or inferior.

Walter has been planning to start a business and discusses a plan to open a liquor store with the entire insurance amount. He has already convinced his two friends to join him in the enterprise. Benethea, on the other hand, feels that the money can be used to get her into medical school. She even quarrels with her brother who claims that she should either become a nurse or get married to her rich boyfriend George. Ruth wants her husband to start a new business but asks Mama Lena do make her own mind and decide what needs to be done.

The next day the whole family is making preparations as the insurance money is supposed to arrive soon. They clean the house and let Travis go out for play. Ruth is also absent as she is at the doctor’s clinic. Benethea gets a visitor name Asagai, her friend who is from Nigeria. She asks him to join the family at her house. Mama Lena is not too pleased but once she meets him and learns the story of his troubled people, feels sympathy for him. Asagai is also in love with Benethea who seems to be not sure about their future together. He leaves the house and Ruth enters soon after. She informs the women that she is expecting a baby again but does not want to deliver because of their financial situation. Mama Lena is very religious and scoffs at the thought of abortion. Benethea, on the other hand, is rebellious and anti-theist. She mocks at her mother’s religious beliefs and is slapped in return.

Soon, Walter enters the scene and straightaway inquires about the money which is brought in by Travis. However, Mama Lena dismisses his proposal to invest it in the liquor store. Walter is disappointed and gets up to leave. Ruth wants to follow but he asks her to stay back. Mama Lena informs him about Ruth’s pregnancy and consequent abortion plans. She expects a strong response from Walter but he keeps mum. Mama Lena expresses her disgust at his son’s silence and calls him a disgrace for chasing money rather than family honor.

A Raisin in the Sun – Summary essay

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