This plot summary and study guide for Lorraine Hansberry's play, A Raisin in the Sun, provides an overview of Act Two. To learn more about Act One, check out the following articles:
- A Raisin in the Sun: Act One, Scene One
- A Raisin in the Sun: Act One, Scene Two
- Production History of the Play
- Biography of Playwright Lorraine Hansberry
- Summary of Act Two, Scene One
Act Two, Scene Two of A Raisin in the Sun takes place on a Friday evening, several weeks following Act Two, Scene One. The passage of time is suggested by the many packing crates in the living room. The Younger family is just a few days away from their big move to a predominately white neighborhood.
Beneatha and George's Unsatisfying Date:
The apartment is seemingly empty as Beneatha enters with her date, George Murchison. It's difficult to understand why the strong-willed, idealistic Beneatha spends time with the wealthy and cynical George. He tries to kiss her, but she just wants to talk. However, he is not interested in a philosophical conversation. Check out George's pompous explanation of the purpose of higher education:
GEORGE: (With artificial patience, counting on his fingers.) It's simple. You read books - to learn fact - to get grades - to pass the course - to get a degree. That's all - it has nothing to do with thoughts.
Mama enters as the sexually frustrated George leaves. Beneatha explains that George is a fool, and she has made up her mind not to waste time with him anymore. Mama approves of her daughter's decision.
Walter's Big Chance:
Ruth enters from the bedroom. She handles a phone call from her husband's employer. She explains that her husband Walter has not been to work due to illness. In truth, Walter has not been to work because he is bent on self-pity. He has given up on his dreams.
Mama, sensing her son's despair and vexation, decides to give Walter Lee $6500. She instructs him to put $3000 in the bank. But she also says he can use the rest for whatever he chooses:
MAMA: The rest you put in a checking account -- with your name on it. And from now on any penny that come out of it or that go in it is for you to look after. For you to decide. (She drops her hands a little helplessly.) It ain't much, but it's all I got in the world and I'm putting it in your hands. I'm telling you to be the head of this family from now on like you supposed to be.
Profoundly touched by his mother's trust and elated to have the money, Walter Lee rebounds. He feels a frenzy of excitement. Once he is alone with his son, Travis, he vows never to be drunk again. He also begins to dream about a wealthy future. He promises that his son's life will be one of prosperity and respect.