A Raisin in the Sun Introductory Webquest


Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun depicts the Youngers, an African-American family living in Chicago during the 1950's. During this time, African American families dealt with issues pertaining to poverty, segregation, and racism. The Younger family faces obstacles that stand in the way of each family member obtaining his/her dream. 


Today you will complete six tasks: 

  1. Examine the American Dream.
  2. Write a biography of Lorraine Hansbury for a book jacket.
  3. Write a description of your life as an African-American citizen living in the South Side of Chicago in the 1950's (adopt a persona to do this).
  4. Discover Langston Hughes.
  5. Examine a poem by Langston Hughes.
  6. Create your own poem using a mad lib.

Write your responses on your own paper. Please include the "Task" heading for each section.



Task 1 - Examine the American Dream.

Read the article at the link below.  After reading, write your own definition of the American Dream in a paragraph of 3-5 sentences. Consider these questions to guide your thinking: Do you agree with this version of the American Dream? Do you share the same dream or is yours different? Why is it different?



Task 2 - Write a Biography Book Jacket.

Follow the link below to read about Lorraine Hansberry.  After you have read the article, write your own paragraph biography of Lorraine Hansberry that you might include on the inside jacket cover of the book. Questions to answer: When and where was she born? What was her childhood like? What did she struggle with? Where did her success come from? Etc. In your biography, include a definition of the Harlem Renaissance. 



Task 3 - Write a Journal Entry.

Examine the websites below and analyze the images featured on the sites. They capture what life was like for African Americans living in the South Side of Chicago during the 1940's and 1950's. Consider what the pictures tell you about the society at the time and what life may have been like.

WRITING: When you finish reading and looking at the photos, choose one you like best and paste it into a Word document. Beneath the photo, compose a journal entry from the perspective of one of the people in the photo.  (See example of Task #3 on the board.) Your entry should reflect what you have learned from your examination of the historical time period. Print the document and include it with your assignment when you turn it in.


Task 4 - Read about Langston Hughes.

Follow the link below to read about American poet Langston Hughes, then write down the three facts about him that you think are most important to our study.

Langston Hughes Biography

Task 5 - Examine a Poem.

Read the poem "Harlem" by Langston Hughes, and answer the questions that follow.


What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode? 

Questions: Answer on your own paper in CSRQ. Answers not in CSRQ will not be scored.

1. What does the poem say?

2. What images does this poem create in your mind?

3. What emotions does this poem evoke?

4. What is the dream Hughes refers to in "Harlem"?

5. Why might it rather explode than dry up?

6. Why is the poem called "Harlem"?

Task 6 - Create your own version of "A Dream Deferred" by filling in the blanks on the "Mad Lib" below. (Write the poem on  your own paper, OR use the handout provided by your teacher.)

“Harlem: A Dream Deferred” Mad Lib

What happens to a _______ ________?

                              noun        verb
Does it _______ ________

            verb         adverb

Like a ­­­­_______ in the _________?

           noun                  noun 

Or _______ like a _______—

     verb                   noun

And then _______?


Does it _________ like __________     _____________?

              verb                 adjective           noun   


Or ________ and ________   ______________--

         verb               verb           adverb      


like a ________      _________?

        adjective            noun

Maybe it _______      ________

               adverb          verb

like a _______       ________.

       adjective         noun

Or does it _________?




Make sure your name is on your paper, and turn it in before you leave class today.