Set in 1957 in the heart of Pittsburgh, August Wilson’s Pulitzer-Prize winning play is as relevant today as it was when it was written in 1983. Touching on themes as broad as gender dynamics, race, baseball, and family, it explores what it means to be discriminated against and how we react to the deferral (or, as Keith Byerman says, denial) of our dreams. If you need any evidence that the play still matters, check out Steve Kelley (Seattle Times) and his column about the Seattle Rep’s performance of the play.

We’ll begin looking at this play by examining Langston Hughes’ classic poem A Raisin In The Sun. It starts to lay some of the ground work for the play by discussing what happens to a dream when it is, in his words, deferred. Check out the full text of the poem here.

After you read the poem, there are a few discussion questions that I hope help you begin to understand it more thoroughly.

Here are the summary and analysis questions for Act I, Scene i.

As you finish reading Act 1 of the play, reflect back on Hughes’ poem. Is Troy beginning to defer his dreams? Is he denying Cory his?

Here are the discussion questions that we used for Act I, iv.

Once you’ve finished reading the play, check out this totally rad assignment. You’ll be creating a mock front page that covers many of the events of the play. Here’s the .doc template that you can use.

Speaking of the difference between deferral and denial, check out Keith Byerman’s analysis of the play. It is pretty thorough, and does a very good job discussing that critical distinction between what it means to defer a dream versus what it means to have a dream denied.

Lastly, you’ll find the assignments for the final writing assignment here.