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A Raisin in the Sun - Act One, Scene Two

Plot Summary of Lorraine Hansberry's Play


The following is a plot synopsis of Act One, Scene Two of A Raisin in the Sun. (To learn more about previous events in this play, read the summary of Act One, Scene One.)

Ruth is Pregnant:

Scene two of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun takes place on a Saturday morning. The Younger family is tidying up their apartment as they wait for the arrival of a $10,000 insurance check.

Walter speaks on the phone, talking to his friend Willy about their plans to invest in a liquor store business.

Walter's wife Ruth, responding to yesterday's fainting spell, is visiting a doctor. When she returns, Ruth reveals to Mama and Beneatha that she is pregnant. Mama suspects that Ruth is considering an abortion.

Beneatha and Asagai = It's Complicated:

During all of this drama, Beneatha's friend (and love-interest) Asagai stops by. Asagai is an idelaistic young man from Nigeria. He has recently returned from Canada. It is apparent that Beneatha has missed him. Asagai offers her a gift, a ceremonial dress sent all the way from his Nigerian village. Asagai states his romantic feelings, but Beneatha does not want to be tied down in a relationship, at least not until she has established her career as a physician.

The Check Arrives:

Soon after Asagai leaves, the mail arrives. As Ruth and her son Travis gather around, Mama opens the envelope. Happy at first, Mama becomes contemplative, reflecting on how the loss of her husband resulted in the $10,000 check.

MAMA: (Her eyes seem to be seeing something somewhere very far off.) Ten thousand dollars they give you.

Walter enters, anxious to show his mother his business plans. To his extreme disappointment, Mama makes it clear that she will not be investing in a liquor store. Walter is wrought with frustration:

WALTER: (Quietly.) Sometimes it's like I can see the future stretched out in front of me - just plain as day. the future, Mama. Hanging over there at the edge of my days. Just waiting for me - a big looming blank space -- full of nothing. Just waiting for me.

Mama advises Walter to treat his wife better, otherwise Ruth may choose to terminate the pregnancy. Walter is doubtful that Ruth would do such a thing, but then his wife admits that she made a five dollar down payment with an abortionist.

Act One ends with Mama demanding that her son say something to convince Ruth not to take such measures.

MAMA: Well - son, I'm waiting to hear you say something. I'm waiting to hear how you be your father's son. Be the man he was. (Pause.) Your wife say she going to destroy your child. And I'm waiting to hear you talk like him and say we a people who give children life, not who destroys them-- (She rises.) I'm waiting to see you stand up and look like your daddy and say we done give up one baby to poverty and that we ain't going to give up nary another one... I'm waiting.

But Walter does not know what to say to his wife. Act One ends with Mama claiming that Walter Lee is a disgrace to his father's memory.

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