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A Raisin in the Sun

  • Study Guide
Main Ideas

Point of View

Main Ideas Point of View

A Raisin in the Sun is written in the third-person omniscient point of view. Because the play is not restricted to a single character’s perspective, but rather encompasses the entire Younger family, the audience has equal access to all the characters. Effectively, then, the play is told from the point of view of the Younger family as a whole. Hansberry’s choice to focus the story through a collective point of view has important implications for the play’s themes of race, class, and family.

The Youngers are a working-class Black family living in a slum in South Side, Chicago, and the reality depicted in the play reflects real historical conditions faced by many other upwardly mobile Black families in the postwar years. As such, the play’s focus on the Younger family and its collective experiences gives voice to issues of larger significance to urban Black people in U.S. cities. Furthermore, Hansberry’s focus on the Youngers as a whole emphasizes the importance of family as a structure that has more strength and staying power than any individual.

Although the audience has equal access to all of the Youngers’ individual perspectives, it could be argued that the play slightly privileges Walter’s point of view, highlighting how his frustrations and dreams guide the fate of the Younger family. For instance, Walter’s sense of emasculation animates his dream to open a liquor shop, leave his job as a chauffeur, and become his own boss. This dream, in turn, drives the selfish act that results in him losing all of the insurance money, thereby placing the Youngers’ future in jeopardy. The worsening circumstances of the entire Younger family largely have their origin in Walter’s actions.

A significant implication of the play’s privileging of Walter’s perspective is an overall emphasis on the importance of Black masculinity at the expense of Black femininity. Even though Hansberry articulates the female characters’ dreams and experiences, she also gives voice, through Walter, to a negative image of Black women as preventing Black male success. Finally, it is Walter who makes the final decision to move to the new house—a decision that has the symbolic function of redeeming his faltering masculinity, even as it may put the family in further danger.