A Raisin in the Sun Activity: Character Letter, Diary, or Journal Entry
Objective: We love conflict. Well, maybe not in the classroom. Or with our families. Okay, let's rephrase—we love conflict in literature. We just can't resist watching a character struggle through a bunch of trials and tribulations. We root for the hero. We boo the villain. We thank our lucky stars we're not in their shoes.
This lesson will allow you to delve more deeply into the conflicts of A Raisin in the Sun, both external and internal, by digging into the characters' motivations and reactions.
Step 1: Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, we're all already well-versed in conflicts of all kinds. Of course, there's internal conflict: Am I wearing the right thing? Saying the right thing? Did anyone see me trip at lunch? Does he notice me? Does she like me back? And we can't forget about external conflicts—with parents, teachers, siblings, and especially bullies (a.k.a. the antagonists of our lives).
Let's bring this all back to the world of literature. Check out a bit of conflict-related vocab:
Who are the good guys in your lives? Who are the bad guys? What are the conflicts you're facing?
Step 2: Let's move this party from our own lives to something else we're familiar with: movies and TV. We're talking things with clear-cut good guys and bad guys. Some examples:
Who is the protagonist and who (or what) is the antagonist? Is there more than one protagonist or antagonist? What's the conflict? How does it play out?
Step 3: Now let's get down to A Raisin in the Sun. Break into groups and identify the protagonists and antagonists in the story. If you're having trouble, most of our learning guides have a Character Roles section, so you can check it out for some help.
Next up, identify the central conflict in the story—i.e., the conflict between protagonist and antagonist—and two additional conflicts. Yep, that's a grand total of three.
For each conflict, write a paragraph answering the following questions:
- What is the relationship between these characters or forces?
- What does the protagonist want? What is standing in the way?
- What is the conflict? Is it internal or external? Both?
- What role does each character play in the conflict?
- How is the conflict resolved?
- Do the characters learn anything or change due to the resolution?
Step 4: Okay, the tough analytical part is over. Now it's time to become one with the character. Here's the plan: you will write journal entries in the voice of one of the characters. But here's the catch: you have to address one of the conflicts from Step 3. This is your chance to really embody the character and how they might feel about the conflict at hand.
Pick a character from A Raisin in the Sun. One you feel like you really get. Then choose one of the conflicts you analyzed and write three journal entries about the situation from the point of view of the character you've chosen.
- Consider their emotions, concerns, fears, hopes, and thoughts. Heavy, we know.
- Inject the most poignant personality traits of the character into it. Get creative!
- Think about what is motivating the character to work through the conflict. What is the reasoning for their actions?
- Decide who in the story is involved in the conflict and how. How is your character reacting to these others?
- Describe how the conflict is resolved.
Make sure to include direct references to the original text to add an authentic flavor to your journal entry. Like pepper flakes, but even better.
If you want to get fancy, you can use the online journaling tool Penzu to add different fonts, colors, and images.