Act 2 Scene 2: Analyzing Complex Characters in A Raisin in the Sun

3 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT cite specific evidence from text that illustrates significant events that give insight into how complex characters develop over the course of (Act 2, Scene 2) of A Raisin in the Sun by discussing, analyzing, and writing.

Big Idea

Students analyze the values of assimilation, material wealth, and self determination within each developing character.


15 minutes

We are now at the point in the play that I want students to begin making predictions about how the insurance money will help each character make their dream a reality.  

Making Predictions

Making predictions will help my students get into the play with a deeper level of engagement.  Making predictions is more than just guessing what is going to happen next. I want them to predict because it helps them become actively involved in reading and helps to keep their interest level high in what they're reading (and watching).  Another benefit of making predictions is that it will provide a way for them to monitor their understanding of the play's events and therefore increase retention.

I pass out a  Prediction Chart RL.9-10.3, while asking that they refer to their Character Analysis Chart citing evidence in their learning packet to support their analysis of how each character develops over the course of the text and advances the plot RL.9-10.1.  After making their predictions I select a few students to report out to the class.

Building Knowledge

15 minutes

In this next scene of the play there are significant events that give insight into how complex characters develop over the course of the play.  Their interactions with each other further develop the plays plot and theme.  

Using their prediction chart, I facilitate a discussion on how the main characters' interactions are revealing the dynamic nature of who they are and how their interactions advance the plot RL.9-10.3. To increase engagement and understanding, I next give them a short preview of some of the significant events in the play and comments made by the characters in the scene that they will be watching and reading.  I also ask what theme or message is the author conveying about life in these comments? 

For example, I tell them that in the beginning scene Mama demonstrates her support for her daughter Beneatha by asking if Beneatha had a good time with her "boyfriend" George. Beneatha tells Mama that George is a “fool.”  Mama replies, “I guess you better not waste your time with no fools.” Beneatha appreciates her mother’s support.  I then ask students how they would feel if their parent gave similar advice? SL.9-10.1 



Student Learning Activity

35 minutes

As in the previous lessons students listen to and watch the beginning of the play's scenes. I show approximately (3 minutes) of the Act 2 Scene 2 video after which I facilitate a short discussion to give insight into how complex characters develop over the course of the play. Watching and listening to the dialogue between characters helps students conceptualize the words that they read.  The characters Mama, Beneatha, George and Walter all have significant interactions that further develop the plays plot and theme RL.9-10.3.  

Next I assign character roles and put name tents on their desks while asking them to record their role on their template. I have found that assigning roles with name tents increases students participation in the read aloud activity. Comprehending a play also entails reading and listening to the dialogue between these complex characters.  I try to find a balance of reading a loud and students reading to themselves.  I have found using a learning packet supports student organization and comprehension. As we read I will pause to discuss the character's interactions and ask students to record in their learning packet  the characters and their traits on the Character Analysis Chart.  

I pause to discuss George's expressed values versus Beneatha's.  For example,  George believes that one should become wealthy and perhaps achieve respect through their economic status, which would mean for an African American a certain degree of assimilation into the dominate white culture. We discuss the meaning of the vocabulary word, assimilation, RL.9-10.4 and the different values expressed by George and Berneatha.

At the end of this scene, Mama gives Walter responsibility for the remaining amount of the money and says Walter should become and should act like he has become the head of the family. We discuss Walter's beliefs of how best to use the money.  I ask students to think about his values and if they disagree or agree SL.9-10.1 with Walter caring more for his son's Travis’s education than for his sister Beneatha’s, partly because Travis is his child and partly because Beneatha is a woman and therefore should not be so fixed on her independence and becoming a physician.



Wrap Up

10 minutes

Values Comparison

Sometimes comparing and contrasting two characters is the most effective way to gain a deeper understanding of the complexity of each character. Students have to look for similarities and differences which involve the high order skills of analyzing and synthesizing. As a wrap up exercise I pass out a Venn Diagram and ask students to pick two characters and how they interact in the play by comparing and contrasting their beliefs and values as revealed in this scene RL.9-10.3.

After ten minutes I collect the Venn Diagrams as a formative assessment of what students learned today to be reviewed during the next day's lesson.