“One Book, One Fenwick:” A Raisin in the Sun Review

     This summer, a new reading program was introduced to the Fenwick community. Taking inspiration from Chicago Public Library, Fenwick welcomed “One Book, One Fenwick.” 

     For this year’s “One Book, One Fenwick,” students had to read A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. This play portrays a black family living in the city of Chicago. The Younger family is presented with a great deal of money following their fathers’ death, and together they are figuring out what to do with the money. With life ahead of them, the Younger siblings seem to have different ideas for what this money can do for them in life. Beneatha Younger wants to pursue a career of being a doctor, while her brother Walter wants to invest in a liquor store, believing that it can change the family’s life. Lena, ‘Mama’, Younger, takes matters into her own hands. Using 35 percent of the money, she buys a new home for her family in Clybourne Park, an all white neighborhood. She gives the other 65 percent of the money to her son Walter, telling him to put 46 percent of it towards his sister’s education, and the remaining 54 percent of it towards his dreams of the liquor store. Instead, Walter uses all of the money for the liquor store, but this decision quickly backfires on him. Walter was blindsided, and completely scammed out of his money. This devastated him, and his dreams of the family prospering in life quickly fade away. Successful hope for the family isn’t gone quite yet. The Younger family makes the move to their new home. While this new environment presents more space to flourish, it doesn’t come without struggles. The people of Clybourne Park didn’t want the black family moving into their predominantly white neighborhood. Karl Lindner, a representative of the neighborhood sent to the Youngers, presented the family with an offer. This offer was to buy the house back from the family at a much higher price than what they originally paid for it. Despite the efforts made to prevent the Youngers from moving into their new home, they go against Lindner’s offer and make the big move. At the end of the story, the Younger family, packed and ready, are leaving their old apartment.

     Narella Vazquez, a freshman here at Fenwick, read the play as a part of her summer reading assignment for her English I Honors class. Mr. Sullivan, her English teacher, discussed the play throughout his classroom. Vazquez said, “In my class we’ve had in-depth conversations on the different characters and their qualities, different motifs, and deeper meanings. We’ve also done quite a few assignments like essays and composition book reflections on different subjects regarding the book.” Engaging conversations about the story like this allow students to have an in-depth discussion about the plots and hidden meanings that people might often overlook. It keeps the students interested in the storyline and allows them to spring new ideas from each other that they might have never considered. Mr. Sullivan, an English teacher here at Fenwick, said, “This play gave my classes a great opportunity to open the year with engaging discussions both of literary elements in the text, such as its interesting motifs, but also more difficult subjects such as the complexity of characters and the unsolved social problems that this reading presents.”

     Behind each story lies a deeper meaning. Vazquez says, “Cherishing people you value and being loyal is one of the most important lessons in A Raisin in the Sun. These are important qualities you can apply in your life by being someone trustworthy and letting your loved ones know how important they are to you through words and actions. You can exercise the lesson in A Raisin in the Sun of valuing your dreams by being ambitious and working hard.” Throughout the reading, we see how driven the family is. The Younger family overcame challenges in life that were presented to them and made huge sacrifices along the way. Chasing after your dreams isn’t always easy, and sacrifices are to be made along the way. Being surrounded by people who you love and staying true to yourself and your values can help you along the way.