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SHORT PLOT/SCENE SUMMARY (Synopsis)
A Raisin in the Sun is a play about a poor black family's struggle for survival. As the curtain rises, Mama, the sixty-year old mother of the family, is waiting for a $10,000 life insurance check, for her husband has passed away. Much of the action of the play revolves around how this $10,000 is spent. Beneatha, the daughter of the family, would like to spend some of the money on her education, for she longs to be a doctor. Walter, the son of the family, wants to invest all of the money in a liquor store. Being a staunch Christian, Mama is opposed to Walter's plan.
After the check arrives, Mama uses part of the money as a down payment on a house in a white neighborhood called Clybourne Park. Walter is very angry at her decision and causes Mama deep anguish. To make things better between herself and her son, she entrusts Walter with the rest of the money, asking him to put part of it in the bank for Beneatha's education. The immature Walter ignores his mother's wishes and immediately invests all of the remaining money in a liquor store. He is certain that he and his two partners will quadruple their initial investment.
A white representative from Clybourne Park comes to meet the Youngers and to warn them against moving into the white neighborhood. The Youngers are angry at his hidden threat and turn him out of the house. Then Bobo, one of Walter's business partners comes to inform Walter that the third investor in the liquor store, Willy, has run off with all of Walter's insurance money. The news is a deep blow to the family and tests the strength of each member. At first Walter thinks that they should not continue with their plans to move. He is at the point of selling the house to Mr. Lindner; at the last minute, he changes his mind. In spite of the financial reverses and the racial discrimination that they might have to face, the Youngers continue their plan of moving into the white neighborhood.
Apart from the above-mentioned main plot, there are subplots, which include Beneatha's love affairs and Ruth's pregnancy. Beneatha is dating two men; George Murchison is richer and kinder than Joseph Asagai, whom Beneatha prefers. Toward the end of the play, Asagai finally asks Beneatha to marry him and go with him to Africa. Ruth gets pregnant and wants to have an abortion since she feels that her marriage is troubled. Mama, however, is totally against the idea. Although it is not stated in the play, it appears that Ruth decides against the abortion, for her marriage seems to have improved. Her fights with Walter subside after he decides to keep the new house. She is happy about moving into a larger place.
Despite all the difficulties and complications in the play, at the end the audience sees the Youngers leaving their old house. Mama is carefully carrying her potted plant, as if to make sure that they put down roots in the new place. She realizes that the move into a white neighborhood is a bold decision on the part of the family.