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Teaching Guide: Exploring A Raisin in the Sun

This teaching guide helps instructors use a specific primary source set, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, in the classroom. It offers discussion questions, classroom activities, and primary source analysis tools. It is intended to spark pedagogical creativity by giving a sample approach to the material. Please feel free to share, reuse, and adapt the resources in this guide for your teaching purposes.

Discussion questions

  1. Using the photograph of the back steps of apartments on Chicago’s South Side and the excerpt from a Chicago commission report, explain the appeal of suburban life for Chicago residents in the 1940s and ’50s. How does your answer relate to the experiences and ambitions of the Younger family in the play?

  2. Using the photographs of the domestic and the chauffeur as evidence, explain what kinds of professions were available to African Americans in the postwar period. Where do the occupations depicted appear in this play? What impact do they have on the characters?

  3. Using the photo of African American women in 1950s attire, the photo of a bride and groom in traditional Nigerian dress, and the photo of a female customer at the Natural Kuumba Hair Salon, describe the transformation that Beneatha undergoes during A Raisin in the Sun. What does this transformation signify about her changing identity?

  4. Despite the setback during the Karl Lindner visit, the Youngers proceed with their plans to move. Using the photo of crowd gathering after the arrest of a white supremacist group and the television news clip as evidence, explain some of the challenges that might await them in Clybourne Park.

Classroom activities

Break students into groups and assign each one an image from the original production of the play. Ask each group to connect their image to a specific scene from the play by answering the following questions:

Which characters appear in the picture?
What is the mood depicted in the picture?
How are the actors’ bodies positioned in each scene?
Why would the director choose such positionings?
What sorts of props and sets do you see? How do they fit in?
What does the image help emphasize about the scene?

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