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Thursday, October 17, 2019

A Raisin In The Sun by Lorraine Hansberry



A Raisin the sun is a play by Lorraine Hansberry that debuted on broadway in 1959. The title comes from the poem "Harlem" (also known as "A Dream Deferred") by Langston Hughes. The story is based upon a black family's experiences in the Washington Park Subdivision of Chicago's Woodlawns neighborhood.
Walter and Ruth Younger and their son Travis, along with Walter's mother Lena (Mama) and sister Beneatha, live in poverty in a dilapidated two-bedroom apartment on Chicago's South side. Walter is barely making a living as a limousine driver. Though Ruth is content with their lot, Walter is not and desperately wishes to become wealthy, to which end he plans to invest in a liquor store in partnership with Willy, a street-smart acquaintance of Walter's whom we never meet. At the beginning of the play, Mama is waiting for an Insurance check for ten thousand dollars. Walter has a sense of entitlement to the money, but Mama has religious objections yo alcohol and Beneatha has to remind him it is Mama's call how to spend it. Eventually Mama put some of the money down a new house, choosing an all-white neighborhood over a black one for the practical reason that it happens to be much cheaper. Later she relent L's and gives the rest money to Walter to invest with the provision that he reserves $3,000 for Beneatha's education. Walter passes the money on to Willy's naive sidekick Bobo, who gives it to Willy, who absconds with it depriving Walter and Beneatha of their dreams, though not the Youngers of their new home. Meanwhile, Karl Lindner, a white representative of the neighborhood they plan to move to, makes a generous offer to buy them out.

He wishes to avoid neighborhood tension over interracial population, which to the three women's horror Walter prepares to accept as a solution to their financial setback. Lena says that while money was something they try to work for, they should never take it if it was a person's way of telling them they were not fit to walk the same earth as them.

While all these is going on, Walter's character and direction in life are being defined for us by two different men: Beneatha's wealthy and educated boyfriend George Murchison, and Joseph Asagai. Neither man is actively involved in the Youngers financial ups and downs. George represents the "fully assimilated black man" who denies his African heritage with a "smarter than thou" attitude, which Beneatha finds disgusting. While dismissively mocking Walter's lack of money and education. Asagai patiently teaches Beneatha about her about her African heritage; he gives her thoughtfully useful gifts from Africa, while pointing out she is unwittingly assimilating herself into white ways. She straightens her hair, for example, which he characterizes as "mutilation".
A Raisin in the sun by Lorraine Hansberry - edulect.org

When Beneatha becomes distraught at the loss of the money, she is upbraided by Joseph for materialism. She eventually accepts his point of view that things will get better with a lot of effort, along with his proposal of marriage and his invitation to move with him to Nigeria to practice medicine.

Walter is oblivious to the stark contest between George and Joseph: his pursuit of wealth can only be attained by liberating himself from Joseph's culture, to which he attributes his poverty, and rising to George level, wherein he sees salvation.

THEMES IN A RAISIN IN THE SUN 
The play remains a potent touchstone, still speaking to viewers about race, gender roles, family, hope and desperation, capitalism, the American dream, the problem of housing discrimination, how the social, educational, economical and political climate of the 1950s affected African Americans' quest for "The American Dream".

  Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965) analyzes Northern racism and it cruel effects in her play A Raising in the Sun, which she claims is "specifically [about] Southside Chicago" (Hansberry. YGB 114).

Many social issues including feminism, gender roles, the Black family, and the pan-African movement, as well as events within Hansberry's own life, are interweaved in this play. However, a central theme of A Raisin in the Sun reveals how racism from the housing industry, government, religious leaders, and average Americans supported the segregated housing environment of Chicago...

(a) Dreams, Hopes, and Plans: BENEATHA (Dropping to her knees) Well- I do - all right? - thank everybody! And forgive me ever for ever wanting to be anything at all! (Pursing him on her knees across the floor) FO...

(b) Race: ASAGAI... You came up to me and you said... "Mr. Asagai - I want very much to talk with you. About Africa. You see, Mr. Asagai, I am looking for my identity!" (He laughs) (1.2.98)

(c) Pride: Still, we can see that at some time, a time probably no longer remembered by the family (except perhaps for MAMA), the furnishings of this room were actually selected with care and love and even ho...

(d) Family: RUTH (She finally laughs aloud at him and holds out her arms him and we see that it is a way between them, very old and practiced. He crosses to her and allows her to embrace her warmly but keep...

(e) Poverty: RUTH they said Saturday and this is just Friday and I hopes to God you ain't going to get up here first thing this morning and start talking to me 'bout no money — 'cause I...

(f) Suffering: Weariness has, in fact, won in this room. Everything has been polished, washed, sat on, used, scrubbed too often. All pretenses but living itself have long since vanished from the very atmosphere o...

(g) Dissatisfaction: We can see that she was a pretty girl, even exceptionally so, but now it is apparent that life has been little that she expected, and disappointment has already begun to hang in her face. (1.1.stag...

(h) The Home: MAMA (Looking at him as she would WALTER) I bet you don't half look after yourself, being away from your mama either. I spec you better come 'round here from time to time to get yourself some d...

(I) Gender: WALTER... See there, that just goes to show you what women understand about the world. Baby, don't nothing happen for you in this world 'less you pay somebody off! (1.1.81)

(j) Choices: RUTH (Beaten) Yes I would too, Walter. (Pause) I gave her a five-dollar down payment. (1.2.237)

(k) Sacrifice: WALTER I don't want nothing but for you to stop acting holy 'round here. Me and Ruth done made some sacrifices for you – why can't you do something for the family? (1.1.118)

CHARACTERS IN A RAISIN IN THE SUN BY LORRAINE HENSBERRY

Walter: As Mama's only son, Ruth's defiant husband, Travis's caring father, and Beneatha's belligerent brother, Walter serves as both protagonist and antagonist of the play. The plot revolves around him and the actions that he takes, and his character evolves the most during the course of the play. Most of his actions and mistakes hurt the family greatly, but his belated rise to man hood makes a sort of hero in the last scene. Throughout the play, Walter provides an everyman perspective of the mod-twentieth-century African-American male. He is the typical man of the family who struggles to support it and who tries to discover new, better schemes to secure it economic prosperity. Difficulties and barriers that obstruct his and his family's progress to attain that prosperity constantly frustrate Walter. He believes that money will solve all of their problems, but he is rarely successful with money.

Walter often fights and argue with Ruth, Mama, and Beneatha. Far from being a good listener, he does not seems to understand that he must pay attention to his family members concerns in order to help them. Eventually, he realize that he cannot raise the family up from the poverty alone, and he seeks strength in uniting with his family. Once he begins to listen to Mama and Ruth express their dreams of owning a house, he realizes that buying the house is more important for the family's welfare than getting rich quickly. Walter finally becomes a man when he stands up to Mr. Lindner and refuses the money that Mr. Lindner offers the family not to move in to its dream house in a white neighborhood.
Mama: Mama is Walter and Beneatha's sensitive mother and the head of the younger household. She demands that members of her family respect themselves and take pride in their dreams. Mama require that the apartment in which they live always be neat and polished. She stands up for her belief and provides perspective from an older generation. She believes in striving to succeed while maintaining her moral boundaries; she rejects Beneatha progressive and seemingly un-christian sentiment about God, and Ruth's consideration of an abortion disappoint her. Similarly, when walter comes to her with his idea to invest in the liquor store venture, she condemn the idea and explains that she'll not participate in such un-christian business. Money is only a means to an end for Mama; dreams are more important to her than material wealth, and her dream is to own a house with a garden and yard which Travis can play.

Asagai: One of Beneatha fellow students and one of her suitors, Asagai is from Nigeria, and throughout the ply he provides an international perspective. Proud of his African heritage, he hopes to return to Nigeria to bring about positive change and modern advancement. He tries to teach Beneatha about her heritage as well. He stands in obvious contrast to Beneatha other suitor, George Murchison, who is an arrogant African-American who has succeeded in life by assimilating to the white world.


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