This was so good, and I’m very glad I read it. So subtle and skillfully put together. To think about this woman dying at 34, and how many more great pieces of art she could have created. This is why I like to do Read Harder every year, because I probably wouldn’t have gotten around to this without it.
This is a three act play that follows the Youngers, a black family living on the South Side of Chicago in the 1950s. Mom Lena, son Walter and his wife Ruth and son Travis, and daughter Beneatha all live in the same small apartment. Lena’s husband has just died, leaving them a $10k life insurance check. The money becomes a catalyst for the events of the rest of the play.
Hansberry was such a talented writer, you know exactly who these characters are within three pages. The dialogue and stage directions are full of this subtle characterization. The play examines not only the family dynamic, but social and racial dynamics as well, through the story of the Younger family and their desires to have safety, a roof over their heads, for money, for respect, and to have a better life, though what each person defines that as is different. The racial and social critiques present here sadly remain almost as relevant as they did back when Hansberry wrote this in the 1950s.
If you’ve somehow missed out on this like I had, highly recommend.
Read Harder Challenge 2020: Read a play by an author of color and/or queer author. (She was both!)