Lorraine Hansberry's Play a Raisin Term Paper

  • Length: 7 pages
  • Subject: Family and Marriage
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #32558396

Excerpt from Term Paper :

His actions motivate the entire family to draw upon each other, and rely on each other's common strength to challenge the established racial and social standards. Walter's brave decision to move regardless of the racial and financial problems that they will face exhibits his strong core reliance and attachment to his family. Ultimately, social and political groups show that despite surface level tension between the Younger families, these individuals are dedicated to the family unit at their core levels, especially when confronted by outsiders challenging the strength of their family.

The final aspect we need to examine the impact of gender roles within the Younger family. Gender roles are a fundamental point of tension and conflict within the play. This is because this family nucleus is dominated primarily by the women rather than men. There are always subtle underlying gender tensions being played throughout the plot development. Lena's control of the insurance money from the outset and her denial of Walter clearly show that this family runs along matriarchal lines. Both Lena, Ruth and to some degree Beneatha all look down upon Walter. In this way, Walter appears emasculated through the novel, and this causes him to attempt to prove himself as an independently successful individual. Walter finds himself in a very confusing situation, because even though is the breadwinner of his family, he perceives himself to have very little power within the family unit (Maxnotes, 11). His mother and his wife, rather than he appears to make the decisions concerning the group's destiny. It is this bitterness towards being consistently emasculated that causes Walter to want to lash out and make "fast money" (Noelle, npg). Beneath also creates the evidence of a non-traditional gender hierarchy within the family. Instead of Walter being the "hope and pride" of the Younger family, this falls upon Beneatha's shoulders as the only individual who has a college education and pursuit of higher aspirations. This is very different from the traditional family model, where the male retains both the position of power and respect within the family. This tension is externally identified several times through the book. First, through the actions of Lena, who tries to appease Walter's masculine ego by giving him the extra insurance money for safe keeping. Another instance of Walter's emasculation is when George, Beneatha's date casually dismisses his dreams of starting his own business, showing him disrespect within his own household. In effect, the dominance of the women within the Younger family, strips Walter of his masculinity, he feels that he has little control over his own life, and that he is helpless to even decide the fate of his family. This constant struggle is an underlying issue that strongly motivates him to secretly invest in his liquor enterprise. The sum effect is that the traditional gender roles are not observed in the Younger family, and as a result, Walter feels extremely subsumed and disrespected. The combination of these two factors causes the conflict within the play.

Raisin in the Sun" is a masterpiece of American playwright because it uses the family unit to demonstrate both how strong an African-American family nucleus can be, and also how external factors relating to social, political and economic change can dramatically disturb the roles of family members. The Youngers are not atypical of the African-American family; they symbolize the constant struggle during that era to advance towards upward social mobility despite both financial and racial barriers (Maxnotes, 69). Yet the moral of the story is that despite the many internal conflicts experienced by each individual family member, they are bonded together by a close kinship derived from common experiences. The hardships that the Younger family endured through the years, and their close reliance on each other, ultimately wins out against outside influences. Which shows that despite each individual's strong sense of independence, they are inevitably effected by how the family unit functions and their common core values.

Hansberry's a RAISIN in the SUN. (2004, August 13). Retrieved October 14, 2006, at http://www.google.com / url?sa=t&ct=res&cd=8&url=http%3A%2F%2F www.teachervision.fen.com%2Freading%2Factiv ity%2F3802.html&ei=rnkxRbCKCZy0ggPAw5HzAw&sig=__tuF8jbYbj_tybgPWaVPEZ5owgTE=&sig2 bRWzAwQmr8qCPhRMpfgIjg

Noelle, J. (2004, December 16). A Raisin in the Sun. Retrieved October 14, 2006 at http://caxton.stockton.edu/brigantine/stories/storyReader$20

NPR. (2005, April). A Raisin in the Sun. Retrieved October 14, 2006, at http://www.npr.org/programs/morning/features/patc/raisin/

Maxnotes a Raisin in the Sun. (1994). Boston: Research & Education Assoc.

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