This is a play by Lorraine Hansberry. It is about the poor African American family dealing with poverty as well as other problems such as racism in Chicago. This text, therefore, provides a detailed plot overview of the events.
A Quick Synopsis of the Play
The plot is based on a low-income family of African-American roots living in Chicago on the Southside. They have been blessed with an opportunity to get out of their poverty through a check for life insurance that the mother of the family received after the death of her husband. The amount on it is $10,000. The mother is called Lena younger. Lena’s family all have plans for this money. Walter is the oldest son, who has a wife and son. He wants the money to be invested in a liquor store. Beneatha, who was a college student and the younger sister to Walter, wants the money to be spent on her education, specifically, medical school. The mother, Lena also her plans for the money and wants to buy the family a house and use the remaining to pay for Beneatha’s education.
The five people live in a small apartment with one bedroom, and all share the same bathroom. This building is also infested with roaches. There is much environmental pressure here. Walters wife, Ruth, discovers that she is pregnant again and seriously starts to consider an abortion because the family is struggling to the point that requesting fifty cents can easily turn into a conflict. There was room for dreams in the house despite all these problems.
Beneatha is the source of ideas and new philosophies for the family. In college, she is always challenging the beliefs of the society on culture, gender race and even religion that she grew up with. She is involved with two men who have different views on the culture of the African American people. First is George Murchison, who is a classmate of Beneatha. He comes from wealth. With this character, Hansberry portrays the tension that arises between African Americans of different social classes. The second boyfriend is named Asagai. Asagai is a student from Africa, Nigeria. With him, Beneatha can learn and explore the African heritage. Asagai provides her with Nigerian clothes, introduces her to Nigerian music. He also encourages her to follow her aspirations. This is portrayed around the end of the play where he invites Beneatha to go and practice medicine in Nigeria, by returning with him.
Walter chases the infamous American dream. He has a great entrepreneurial side and an amazing desire to make progress. Unlike Beneatha, Walter is not interested in challenging the system. He wishes to work his way up the social classes. He is currently a chauffeur, and hence he is not satisfied with this position. He wants a great lifestyle that enables him to have a mansion, a great car and even to be able to provide pearls for his beloved. Essentially he wants an office job. Walter idolizes power and wealth to the extent that he has a constant hunger for change. Racism and other obstacles work against him, and keep his life stagnant and cause his aspirations to break down. Lena sees the importance of the plans he had for a liquor store but rejects the idea on the moral basis.
Lena deposits a house in a somewhat white neighborhood and entrusts Walter to put a good portion of the money away to pay for Beneatha’s education. Walter instead gets into business with two men whose characters are questionable. These men make off with all the money.
The family had already made their plans to relocate and were packing their belongings. They depended on the money entirely. Walter is devastated and has to consider an offer made by a representative of the white neighborhood named Mr. Lindner whereby he would pay the family extra in exchange of the family not moving to that neighborhood. The family sees the offer as immoral as it gives priority to money over their dignity. Walter is however determined to complete this deal. He goes ahead with it but then backs out at the final moments because of the innocent stare that his son Travis, gives him. The family moves despite knowing that the journey ahead would be hard, but satisfied that they had made the right choice.