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A Raisin In The Sun Essay

1611 words - 6 pages

In 1959, American Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev came together at the American National Exhibition in Moscow, a “showcase of American consumer goods” (May 18), for “one of the most noted verbal sparring matches of the century,” aptly coined the “kitchen debate” (16). As Khrushchev applauded the Communist system and its hardworking women, Nixon “extolled the virtues of the American way of life” (16), emphasizing America’s “successful breadwinners supporting attractive homemakers in affluent suburban homes” (18). Although Nixon’s emphasis upon the suburban lifestyle may have successfully displayed America’s superiority in consumer goods, Nixon grossly “exaggerated the availability of the suburban home” (20). For many black Americans, despite postwar socioeconomic gains, the domestic suburban dream was difficult, if not impossible, to obtain because “race made them outcasts in the suburban housing market” (Wiese 99). If the model American home represented the “essence of American freedom,” clearly it was a freedom withheld from a significant portion of America’s population (May 16).

While Nixon articulated the “widely shared belief” that suburbia “offered a piece of the American dream for everyone,” in New York, Lorraine Hansberry’s play, A Raisin in the Sun, offered a very different perspective (20). Set in post World War II Southside Chicago, Hansberry’s drama explores the conflict that arises within an African American family when Mama, the family's matriarch, receives a $10,000 life insurance settlement and spends a portion of it to buy a home in the restricted white neighborhood of Clybourne Park. However, Hansberry’s play not only highlighted the issue of housing segregation, but also foreshadowed the impending civil and women’s rights movements. Indeed, more than four years prior to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C., Hansberry asked her audience to consider “What happens to a dream deferred?” (Hansberry 3). A rhetorical question, borrowed from the Langston Hughes poem that serves as an epitaph to her play and an inspiration for her title, Hansberry suggests that while delayed dreams may “dry up / Like a raisin in the sun,” if ignored or suppressed too long, they will “explode” (3). Although Hansberry’s message, upon first glance, appears to be a prophetic warning of things to come, a closer examination of A Raisin reveals it to also be an artfully disguised call to action. Like the Negro spirituals, religious songs created and sung by African slaves as a hidden means of communication and protest, A Raisin in the Sun is a masked work of art, palatable to a white audience, but with a concealed message intended specifically for an African American audience.

Growing up and maturing during the McCarthy era, Hansberry would undoubtedly be mindful of the need to exercise caution with the views expressed in her writings. Familiarity with the experiences of family friend,...

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921 words - 4 pages obsessed with his own sense of success, which he felt would be the end of all of his social and economic problems. Unfortunately Walter had to learn the a hard lesson life, pride and greed will eventually lead to unhappiness. Work Cited Page Carter Steven, R. 1991 Hansberry'sDrama ,Commitment amid Complexity, University of Illinois Press. Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. 1958. New York: Vintage Books. Robinson, Laymond. "Robert Kennedy Consults Negroes Here About The North." New York Times 25 May 1963: 1, 8 Meeting with Baldwin, Hansberry, Belafonte, et al.

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