This A Raisin in the Sun anticipation guide prepares students to engage with the key issues and themes of the drama. Students consider and express their views on the “American dream,” ancestral heritage, assimilation, money, personal values, prejudice, self-respect, and the importance of hope.
Anticipation Guide PDF:Anticipation Guide - A Raisin in the Sun
This worksheet is one of the introduction activities included in the Brave New World unit. You can print the PDF from the lesson below or cut and paste statements from the list.
RELATED POST: 10 A Raisin in the Sun Pre-reading Activities
Lesson: Introduction and Anticipation Guide
Key standard: SL1 Comprehension and Collaboration SL.9-10.1 “Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.”
In literature classrooms around the world, you can find students studying Romeo and Juliet, Death of a Salesman, Long Day’s Journey into Night, and other plays. How is reading and studying a play different from reading a novel or short story?
We will study Lorraine Hansberry’s masterpiece A Raisin in the Sun. A play is like a novel in that it is a narrative with characters, conflicts, themes, and the rest. It is unlike a novel in that it is meant to be performed; we will have to think about stage directions, actors’ choices, and the structure of acts and scenes.
Before diving into the drama, respond to some statements that relate to themes in the play. The statements will help you reflect on your personal views and values.
Think about each statement and agree, disagree, or qualify (to make a response less absolute; add reservations or conditions). Explain your choice.
1) Complete the A Raisin in the Sun Anticipation Guide on your own.
2) Share and discuss your responses in a small group.
3) Choose one of your discussions to share with the class.
Which of the topics from the anticipation guide is the most interesting to you personally? Why? How might this issue be relevant to A Raisin in the Sun?
Anticipation guide statements to cut and paste:
“I know what matters to me in life. I can identify my values clearly. If you listen to what I say and observe my actions, you will know what I care about.”
In my experience, students reflexively provide a response that they think is appropriate (even if it is not accurate). The second part of the statement encourages students to dig deeper. They might know that it is important to care about the environment, for example, but actions speak louder than words. Encourage students to be honest with themselves.
“I believe in the ‘American Dream.’ America is a place where you can improve your life through your talents and hard work.”
Even if your students are fairly homogenous in their political or patriotic views, this statement elicits interesting responses. Some students believe that the promise of social mobility in America has been kept. Others recognize that the realities of life and society unfairly limit opportunities for some. Still others might see the promise of the “American Dream” as an nefarious scam used to manipulate the underprivileged.
“Thinking about your ancestors and your cultural heritage is a waste of time. What difference does it make if my ancestors came from Japan or Ghana or Sweden or wherever?”
This can be a sensitive issue in some classrooms. Make your expectations clear so that students can navigate discussions respectfully and supportively. When it comes to personal values, there is no right or wrong answer. Every individual decides what is right for them alone.
“I love money! I spend a great deal of time thinking about money and what it can buy. Money is one of the most important aspects of life, and you can never have too much.”
I cannot criticize my students for obsessing over money. First, their fixation results from the importance society places on wealth, materialism, and consumerism. Secondly, it would be hypocritical. I like to believe that I mainly value family, community, self-reliance, etc., but I sure spend a lot of time thinking about money.
“Hopes and dreams can make you miserable. It is often better to accept your life as it is and try to make the best of it.”
Some Eastern philosophies suggest that “true happiness comes not from having more, but from wanting less.” On the other hand, the defeatist, negative views represented by Mrs. Johnson and, at times, Walter Lee repulse most people. Hansberry suggests that hopes and dreams cannot be forsaken despite the anger, frustration, disappointment, and sadness they may cause.
“I see the effects of racism and/or other forms of prejudice in my everyday life.”
The play deals with many sensitive subjects. A meaningful education includes the exploration of controversial or even upsetting issues. Encourage students to avoid combative positions. One person may perceive prejudice in a particular behavior while another may not. A discussion is not a debate and you are not trying to “win.” Listening to the views of another does not negate your own.
“You cannot put a price on my self-respect. It is important to me that I am proud of who I see in the mirror. I would not trade my dignity just to make my life easier.”
Is self-respect the same as dignity? How do these ideas relate to self-confidence or positive self-image? If someone reaches the pinnacle of success, does it really matter if they are a liar and a cheat? This question lies at the heart of Walter Lee’s character arc.
RELATED POST: 10 A Raisin in the Sun Pre-reading Activities
Thanks for checking out A Raisin in the Sun Anticipation Guide!
By giving students the opportunity to express their own views, this worksheet hooks your class into discussions of the key theme subjects. Explorations of personal values, the “American dream,” ancestral heritage, money, fitting in, prejudice, self-respect, and the importance of hope create interest and prepare students for Hansberry’s theme development.
NOTE: A Raisin in the Sun Anticipation Guide is included in the lesson plans resource.