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A Raisin In The Sun By Lorraine Hansberry

2034 words - 8 pages

In a time when African American people had no greater desire than "will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character" (King), A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry, is the tale of an African American family living in Chicago's South-side, sometime between World War II and 1959 (Hansberry, 24). The characters' various endeavors take place during a time when one's gender and the color of one's skin defined their value. This results in character traits and world views that many find hard to relate to because of cultural differences caused by time. Beneatha Younger is a credulous, self-actualizing, and autarkic young woman who serves as one of the main protagonist of A Raisin in the Sun. These traits arise out of a desire to find herself yet still remain independent in an age when a woman's entire identity was tied to a man's. This was a time when men thought women were unable to have their own thoughts, values, and aspirations, independent from any man's.

Beneatha shows the quality of being credulous, meaning she is far too eager to believe any evidence she hears that supports her own viewpoint, which can lead to susceptibility to faulty ideals and affects the overall credibility of everything she believes. This is evident in her interactions with Asagai, and although he does not have a bad worldview, he does easily mold her into his way of thinking, even effecting her so far as her changing her exterior appearance rapidly as a result of him. This trait does not appear to be evident in her interactions with the rest of her family. The defining variable in whether this trait makes itself evident appears to be the amount of respect she has for the person with the ideals, not the ideals them-self. This is counter productive to her quest for self-actualization, as she does not appear to be searching for her own independent identity, but rather search for an identity for herself, in the identities of others.

Economic and social barriers caused by race impair her search for identity, because when all of society tell you that you are nothing, it makes it difficult to find an identity beyond nothingness. Beneatha and her family endure through this, and Mama said it best when she stated "ain't nobody in my family never let nobody pay 'em no money that was a way of telling us we wasn't fit to walk the earth".(Hansberry 143). Many African Americans in this era shared Mama's sentiments and it was during this time that the African American civil rights movement really intensified (Lapansky-Werner 580). It was during this time that this movement began destroying both de jure, and de facto segregation with cases such as "Sweatt v. Painter" to abolish construction of separate but unequal all-black schools, "McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents" to abolish discrimination of access to campus facilities, and "Brown v. Board of Education" which challenged the principle of "separate but equal" altogether (Lapansky-Werner 583). The...

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