A Raisin In The Sun By Lorraine Hansberry

1081 words - 4 pages

Lorraine Hansberry’s play, “A Raisin in the Sun” is a realistic drama pivoting around a black, American family’s economic and social struggle against the prejudice that occurs in Chicago during the nineteen fifties. The Youngers’ colorful personalities cause much confrontation and anguish in their small, stifling apartment. In his essay, “A Raisin in the Sun Revisited,” J. Charles Washington, suggests that “our literary judgments, to a large extent, are determined by our own moral standards, by our adherence to the rules society deems appropriate. Generally, these standards differ according to the sex of the individual: A good man, for instance, is strong, aggressive---masculine---, whereas a good woman is sweet, gentle---feminine.” While some of Hansberry’s characters conform to these social criterions, she also strongly challenges the measures by introducing a variety of eclectic personalities.

Beneatha Younger’s love interests, George and Asagai, are prime examples of Hansberry’s reformation of the stereotypical social norms. According to the common standards, George Murchinson should technically be considered Washington’s “good man.” He is proud, tough, and fierce, thus an obvious candidate for affection and approbation from Beneatha and the Younger family. Instead, he is depicted as “shallow” and selfish (I: i, 32). The young man only cares about his reputation and honor, and does not respect those that he believes are of a lower status than him. For example, during an exchange with Walter, George looks “up at him with distaste, a little above it all,” displaying his delusional superiority (II: i, 69). This abominable demeanor creates a negative ambiance instead of that of a “good man.” On the contrary, Joseph Asagai’s kindhearted and gentle manner should almost be considered that of a “good woman” rather than that of a “good man.” Nevertheless, the scholar is seemingly portrayed as a compassionate, “good man.” His genuine concern for others can clearly be recognized through the way he treats Beneatha. At times when she seems troubled or agitated, Asagai’s first instinct is to ask her if “something [is] wrong” and comfort her by “touching her, gently, sweetly” (I: ii, 44 and III: i, 121). His tenderness appeals to the Youngers immediately, as seen at his first encounter with Mama. She “[looks] at [Asagai] as she would Walter,” her own child (I: ii, 49). Asagai is distinguished as a truly “good man” due to his instant charm, and amiable aura. George and Asagai’s ironic characteristics contradict and confront the validity of orthodox classifications of a “good man.”

While Beneatha Younger wishes to make her very life a protest to the model “good woman,” her sister in law, Ruth, willingly complies with the archetype. Remarkably, despite their contrasting nature, both women are illustrated as positive and favorable characters. Beneatha is strong willed and powerful with aspirations that are not restrained by society’s confinements. Even...

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