A Raisin in the Sun

WISELearn Grant Lesson Plan
Title:  A Raisin in the SunAuthor:  Stephanie Rau and Lynn Aprill
Subject(s)English Language Arts
Grade Level(s):  10Total Time:

Overview / Description:  Students develop close reading skills as they examine Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun. The play develops many thematic concepts such as the strength of family, issues with conflicting expectations, and stereotyping and prejudice. Students analyze the play through the close study of scenes and character development as well as the examination of symbolism, language choices, and structure.  Students will also view a film version of the play to enhance understanding as well as analyze some poetry.

Learning goals/objectives:

After completing this activity, students should be able to . . .

  • Engage in a literary analysis of A Raisin in the Sun by analyzing characterization, plot, setting, figurative language, theme, and symbolism.

  • Analyze the concept of "The American Dream." 
  • Evaluate the historical and cultural significance of the play.
  • Examine the relevance of the thematic concepts in current times.
  • Write a multi-paragraph analytical commentary that explores the development of a thematic concept through the exploration of characters, structure and/or symbols.   

Workplace Readiness Skill: 

 x   Social Skills  x Communication 
 x  Teamwork     x    Critical Thinking
   Attitude and Initiative  x  Planning and Organization
   Professionalism    Media Etiquette

Content Standards:

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.

Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment (e.g., Auden's "Musée des Beaux Arts" and Breughel's Landscape with the Fall of Icarus).

Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

Use appropriate and varied transitions to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships among complex ideas and concepts.

Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. 

Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.


Copies of the play A Raisin in the Sun

copies of "Harlem" by Langston Hughes

A Raisin in the Sun film by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment starring Combs, Lathan, McDonald and Rashad.

a copy of For Everyone by Jason Reynolds

Learning Activities:

Download: A Raisin in the Sun Learning Activities.pdf


Formative assessments will include journal or freewriting responses, analysis of quotes and scenes, and written repsonses to questions examining structure, language, and symbolism. Additional interim benchmark assessments include small group discussions, analysis of characters and themes, and analysis of poetry.

Summative Assessment:  Students will write an analytical essay that explores the development of themes, characters, and/or symbolism.  Students can choose from the following writing prompts:

1.        Select a symbol (or multiple symbols) found within in the play, and write an essay that reveals the significance of these symbols.  Address how the symbolism highlights or enhances a thematic point within the play.       

 2.        Choose a character from the play and write an essay about that character’s dream.  Share his/her original individual dream, why the dream was deferred, and how the dream was altered.  What impact did this have?  What point is the author conveying through this? 

 3.        Several minor characters have a major impact on the story and serve an important function within the play.  Choose minor characters and show their significance and how they serve to further elevate a theme.  Consider George Murchison, Joseph Asagai, the neighbor, Mrs. Johnson, Mr. Karl Linder, and/or Willy Harris. 

 4.        As a complementary writing assignment, compare Walter Lee, Beneatha, and Lena as rebels. How are the young people really like their mother?

 5.        Examine the women in Walter Lee’s world.  Show how each of these women shape him while conveying a theme of the play.   

 6.       Write about Asagai, the "modern" black man. How are his values and those of the more traditional Lena surprisingly alike?  What is Hansberrry's purpose in this?

 7.        Choose a character from the play and examine how Hansberry develops a theme through the development of that character. 

 8.     In an essay, discuss the different values represented by Lena, Walter, George Murchison, Beneatha, and Asagai.What is Hansberry’s purpose in including these differing values?  


Read Jason Reynold's poem "For Everyone", and in a personal response to the play and the poem, create a poem depicting thoughts, feelings, and insights about dreams.

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