A Raison In The Sun

  • Category: English
  • Words: 373
  • Grade: 100
Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun was a radical work for its time. Through the Younger family, she created one of the first honest depictions of a black family on an American stage. Before this play, African- Americans had largely been portrayed in broad ethnic stereotypes, usually in small, comedic roles. Hansberry's play shows an entire family in a realistic light. In addition, she sketches out the dilemmas of African-Americans living in a white-dominated society. She does not skirt the issues, but tackles them head on. Her play explores not only the tension between white and black society, but the stresses within black society itself about the relation it wants to have with the white society that has so long held it in thrall. Should blacks want what white society has, or in desiring such a thing are blacks betraying their own heritage. Through the character of Joseph Asagai Hansberry reveals a trend toward celebrating African heritage. As he calls for native revolt in his homeland, she seems to predict the anti-colonial struggles in African countries of the next decades. Ultimately, the play foretells of both the inevitability and necessity of integration.

Hansberry also tackles feminist issues in the play. Through Beneatha, Hansberry proposes that marriage is not necessary for women and that women can and should have ambitious career goals. She even seems to advocate a pro-life opinion in an era when abortion was illegal. Of course, one of her most radical statements was simply the writing and production of the play by herself: a young, black woman of the 1950s.

All of this idealism about race and women's issues boils down to a larger point: dreams are crucial. In fact, Hansberry's play is primarily about dreams. All of the main characters are guided by their dreams. These dreams function in positive ways, by lifting their minds from their hard work and tough lifestyle, and in negative ways, by creating in them even more displeasure with their present states. Mostly, though, the negative dreams come from placing emphasis on materialistic goals, rather than on familial pride and happiness. Hansberry seems to argue that as long as people attempt to do their best for their families, they can lift each other up.
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