A Summary of the Movie "A Raisin in the Sun"

by Clayton Yuetter

"A Raisin in the Sun" started as a play written by Lorraine Hansberry. The play made its debut on Broadway in 1959 starring Sidney Poitier, and it was nominated for four Tony Awards. It was made into a movie in 1961 with many of the original cast members, and into a made-for-TV movie in 1989.

The Inheritance

"A Raisin in the Sun" is set in Chicago's South Side in the 1950s. The Youngers are about to receive a $10,000 life insurance check after the death of Walter Lee Younger's father. Each member of the family wants to do something different with the money. Mama wants to buy a new house, like her and her husband had dreamed about. Walter Lee Younger, her son, wants to invest it in a liquor store. His wife, Ruth, agrees with Mama because she wants more space for her children to grow. Beneatha, Mama's daughter, wants to use the money for her medical school tuition.

Moving into Clybourne Park

Conflict rises over how to use the money. Ruth discovers that she is pregnant, but she offers to have an abortion to save the family from additional financial burden. Walter does not object. Mama makes a down payment on a house in Clybourne Park, believing that a bigger, brighter place to live will do them all well. The neighbors do not want the Youngers in their neighborhood, and they send Mark Lindner from the Clybourne Park Improvement Association to offer them money to stay away.

Beneatha's Proposal

Beneatha rejects a marriage offer from a suitor named George Murchison because he is not as committed to "the problems of their race" as she is. She is offered another proposal from her Nigerian boyfriend, Joseph Asagai. Asagi tries to persuade her to get a medical degree and move to Africa with him. Walter loses the rest of the family's money by giving it to his friend Willie Harris to invest in a liquor store; Harris instead runs away with it.

The End (Spoiler)

Beneatha does not make her decision about going to medical school and Africa before the end of "A Raisin in the Sun." The Youngers refuse the deal offered by Linder and finally move out of their apartment, fulfilling the family's shared dream, despite not having any of the inheritance left. The story ends with their optimism to have a better life in the face of their challenges, believing that if they can stick together as a family they will survive.