The movie “A Raisin in the Sun” is undoubtedly a cinema classic and a work of
art worthy of unhindered praise. Not only is it a masterpiece for its entertainment
purposes, but the movie’s ability to draw attention to the socio economic disadvantage
the many black families faced at the time. Both the historical context of these afflictions
and the discriminatory practices are demonstrated throughout the film. “A Raisin in the
Sun” vividly captures the difficult life for African Americans of the time period, while
rallying attention to the debilitating prejudice that abounds in regards to this particular
The entire premise of the film revolves around the use of recently acquired cash
due to the death of Mama Younger’s husband, who happens to be the films patriarch.
Each member of the family has conflicting ideas about how this money should be spent.
Mama wants to use the money for a down payment on a house for the whole family,
which she feels is the best step for the family to take. Walter, the main male character
within the movie, would like to use the money to open up a series of liquor stores, with
the hopes that this will finally solve their families financial ails. Lastly, Beneatha,
Mama’s youngest daughter, wants the money to go towards paying for her way through
medical school, in the hopes that this can also be an avenue for solving their troubles.
How these different storylines play out throughout the film, as well as the integration of
the race dilemma remains a crucial part of understanding this time period.
To fully understand the complexity of this phenomenon, one must first
comprehend the historical context behind said events. The time period this movie takes
place in was a very trying period for African Americans, particularly those who remained
plagued with the debilitating effects of poverty within inner cities. Chicago during the
1950’s is a perfect place to capture these effects, and coincidentally is where this story
will play out.
In the years leading up to 1950, Chicago was home to one of the largest influx of
immigrants the nation has ever seen. Thousands of people migrated from all over the
world to America in search of a better life, and many of these individuals turned to
Chicago to realize that dream. Unfortunately, this could not be obtained by everyone.
Though home to very progressive anti-segregation laws compared to the rest of the nation
at the time, policy makers in the area found other means to discriminate against the
African American community during this period.
The first of which is in regards to the lack of civil rights given to these people.
Bear in mind that this is 1950’s, and the civil rights movement is still in its infancy. This
group of people still lacked any real legal protections from discrimination, and often fell
victim to violence simply for having different colored skin (Manning, 2009, p 12). Due to
this lack of protection, African Americans were exploited, and...