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Free MonkeyNotes Summary-A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry-Notes
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CHARACTER ANALYSIS

Travis Younger

The son of Walter and Ruth, Travis is the youngest member of the Younger clan. Everybody in the family loves him very dearly. Beneatha often plays with him; Mama is always giving him "sugar" and covering up his errors; and Walter is seen sharing his dreams with him. Most importantly, Ruth looks out for his well- being and worries about him going to a good school and living in a place where there is sunshine and no rats. In spite of the attention he receives, Travis is not a spoiled child, for he has always done without and lived in poverty. When he asks his mother for fifty cents, it is denied him, for she says that they cannot afford extras.

Although he can be mischievous (like chasing rats in the street for entertainment), Travis is a likeable and responsible child. When he is called to come inside, he always obeys; when he is told to help with the chores, he always complies; when he is told to run an errand he quickly goes; and when he wants to make some extra money, he requests permission to bag groceries at the local supermarket. Throughout the play, Travis proves that he does deserve a better life than the one offered him in the ghetto of South Chicago.

Joseph Asagai

Asagai, one of Beneatha's two boyfriends, is an African from Nigeria who is proud of his roots. In contrast to Murchison, he is a wise, caring, charming, and gentle man; he also likes Beneatha's intellectualism instead of ridiculing it like Murchison does. Although he loves Beneatha, he is concerned about her liberated attitude and her lack of pride in her black heritage. During the course of the play, he instills a new pride in her. He brings her Nigerian robes to wear and convinces her to straighten her hair. More importantly he teaches her not to be materialistic and to have faith in her dreams. When he finally asks her to be his wife and go with him to Nigeria, the audience is led to believe that Beneatha will accept his offer.


Through Asagai and Murchison, Hansberry tries to contrast African blacks to American blacks. Asagai is much closer to his native roots and takes great pride in his black heritage, while Murchison is skeptical about his tribal ancestors. Asagai is proud of his African name, which comes from "assegai," meaning a short handled stabbing spear, while Murchison's name is very American. In addition, Asagai is interested in real values that give life meaning, while Murchison is mostly motivated by making money. Finally, Asagai loves Beneatha for who she is; Murchison loves her because she is pretty. It is no wonder that the wise Beneatha finally realizes that Asagai will make a better husband, even though Murchison is much richer.

George Murchison

George Murchison is the second of Beneatha's boyfriends. He is a rich, self-centered college student who boasts of his wealth and accomplishments and seems contemptuous of other blacks. He never seems to really care about Beneatha's thoughts or feelings; instead, he is attracted to her because she is pretty and feels he can change her intellectual way. He proves his callousness when he laughs at Walter's dreams and calls him Prometheus. In comparison to Asagai, he is a much weaker, less likable character. The audience is delighted that Beneatha rejects him and chooses Asagai for her husband.

Karl Lindner

Lindner is the chosen representative of the all-white Clybourne Park Improvement Association. He calls on the Youngers in order to warn them not to move into his neighborhood and to offer to buy the house that they have purchased in Clybourne Park for a handsome profit. When he first talks to Walter, it is obvious that he is a bit timid and uncomfortable. As he talks, he never becomes abrasive or loud, even though he insults them in a quiet, well- mannered, and patronizing way. He refers to the Youngers' moving into the white neighborhood as a "special community problem" and suggests that they will be happier and safer in an all-black environment. He even suggests that things could get pretty nasty for them in Clybourne Park. Tired of his insults, Walter finally asks him to leave, and Lindner departs without a problem.

Lindner appears a second time in the play when Walter considers selling the house and calls him over. This time, it is Walter who his in control. He begins to talk about black pride in general and Younger pride in particular. In the end, he tells Lindner he will not sell the house. Frustrated with Walter's refusal, Lindner tries to appeal to Mama, saying she is older and wiser. Mama, however, agrees with Walter and refuses to sell. Lindner has no choice but to accept their decision and leave. Before he departs, he ominously says that he hopes the Youngers know what they are getting into.

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