"A Raisin in the Sun," Vocabulary from Act I 35 words

Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun" from 1959 is a play about struggling to get ahead while still remaining true to yourself.

Learn these word lists: Act I, Act II, and Act III.
  1. defer
    hold back to a later time
    What happens to a dream deferred?
  2. fester
    ripen and generate pus
    Or fester like a sore...
  3. muffle
    conceal or hide
    She calls to the boy, between yawns, in a slightly muffled voice.
  4. rousing
    capable of arousing enthusiasm or excitement
    She crosses to her son and gives him a good, final, rousing shake.
  5. stupor
    marginal consciousness
    (Her son sits up at last, in a stupor of sleepiness) I say hurry up, Travis!
  6. disheveled
    in disarray; extremely disorderly
    She wipes her face with a moist cloth and runs her fingers through her sleep- disheveled hair in a vain effort and ties an apron around her housecoat.
  7. erratic
    likely to perform unpredictably
    He is a lean, intense young man in his middle thirties, inclined to quick nervous movements and erratic speech habits and always in his voice there is a quality of indictment.
  8. indictment
    an accusation of wrongdoing
    He is a lean, intense young man in his middle thirties, inclined to quick nervous movements and erratic speech habits and always in his voice there is a quality of indictment.
  9. exasperated
    greatly annoyed; out of patience
    (The boy gives her an exasperated look for her lack of understanding, and eats grudgingly)
  10. vindicated
    freed from any question of guilt
    (The boy finally turns around and rolls his eyes at her, knowing the mood has changed and he is vindicated; he does not, however, move toward her yet) Not for nothing in this world!
  11. defiance
    a hostile challenge
    Walter stands and stares back at her with defiance, and suddenly reaches into his pocket again on an afterthought)
  12. chauffeur
    a man paid to drive a privately owned car
    (Shrugging) So you would rather be Mr. Arnold than be his chauffeur?
  13. permeate
    spread or diffuse through
    Her speech is a mixture of many things; it is different from the rest of the family's insofar as education has permeated her sense of English and perhaps the Midwest rather than the South has finally at last won out in her inflection; but not altogether, because over all of it is a soft slurring and transformed use of vowels which is the decided influence of the Southside.
  14. inflection
    the patterns of stress and intonation in a language
    Her speech is a mixture of many things; it is different from the rest of the family's insofar as education has permeated her sense of English and perhaps the Midwest rather than the South has finally at last won out in her inflection; but not altogether, because over all of it is a soft slurring and transformed use of vowels which is the decided influence of the Southside.
  15. slur
    utter indistinctly
    Her speech is a mixture of many things; it is different from the rest of the family's insofar as education has permeated her sense of English and perhaps the Midwest rather than the South has finally at last won out in her inflection; but not altogether, because over all of it is a soft slurring and transformed use of vowels which is the decided influence of the Southside.
  16. vengeance
    the act of taking revenge (harming someone in retaliation for something harmful that they have done) especially in the next life
    She closes the door with a sleepy vengeance and crosses to the table and sits down a little defeated.
  17. feeble
    pathetically lacking in force or effectiveness
    She crosses through the room, goes to the window, opens it, and brings in a feeble little plant growing doggedly in a small pot on the window sill.
  18. doggedly
    with obstinate determination
    She crosses through the room, goes to the window, opens it, and brings in a feeble little plant growing doggedly in a small pot on the window sill.
  19. ledger
    a record in which commercial accounts are recorded
    In context, "ledger" refers to a person's "book of life" or "metaphorical record book where one's actions were kept."
    But whether I go into business selling it to 'em is, and I don't want that on my ledger this late in life.
  20. tentatively
    in a tentative manner
    (She waits several seconds, trying to make up her mind about something, and looks at RUTH a little tentatively before going on) Been thinking that we maybe could meet the notes on a little old two-story somewhere, with a yard where Travis could play in the summertime, if we use part of the insurance for a down payment and everybody kind of pitch in.
  21. furtively
    in a furtive manner
    Ruth (Studying her mother-in-law furtively and concentrating on her ironing, anxious to encourage without seeming to): Well, Lord knows, we've put enough rent into this here rat trap to pay for four houses by now.
  22. raucous
    unpleasantly loud and harsh
    (Mama and Ruth look at each other and burst into raucous laughter) Don't worry I don't expect you to understand.
  23. neurotic
    a person suffering from neurosis
    Brother isn't really crazy yet he he's an elaborate neurotic.
  24. dreary
    lacking in liveliness or charm or surprise
    (She looks out of the window as she replaces the plant) Lord, ain't nothing as dreary as the view from this window on a dreary day, is there?
  25. insecticide
    a chemical used to kill insects
    Beneatha, in dungarees, with a handkerchief tied around her face, is spraying insecticide into the cracks in the walls.
  26. idle
    not in action or at work
    Travis, the sole idle one, is leaning on his arms, looking out of the window.
  27. bastion
    a stronghold into which people could go for shelter during a battle
    In this case, the body is viewed as a shield.
    Travis (Safely behind the bastion of Mama) That's right look out, now!
  28. dejection
    a state of melancholy depression
    Ruth comes in forlornly and pulls off her coat with dejection.
  29. quizzical
    perplexed (as if being expected to know something that you do not know)
    Beneatha (Turning to him, not laughing) Yes (Her face is quizzical, profoundly disturbed)
  30. incredulity
    doubt about the truth of something
    Beneatha (With incredulity) You—you sent all the way home for me?
  31. liberated
    free from traditional social restraints
    Asagai: It's how you can be sure that the world's most liberated women are not liberated at all.
  32. evade
    use cunning or deceit to escape or avoid
    Beneatha: You're evading.
  33. haphazardly
    in a random manner
    She sets the headdress on haphazardly and then notices her hair again and clutches at it and then replaces the headdress and frowns at herself.
  34. exasperation
    an exasperated feeling of annoyance
    Ruth (turns to her, with kind exasperation): You've gone and got yourself upset.
  35. frantically
    in an uncontrolled manner
    Walter (sits down and grasps it close and counts off the zeros) Ten thousand dollars (He turns suddenly, frantically to his mother and draws some papers out of his breast pocket) Mama, look.