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“A Raisin in the Sun” Review Sample Essay

“A Raisin in the Sun” Review Sample Essay.

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"A Raisin in the Sun" Review Sample Essay.

The Struggle of being Black in America: “A Raisin in the Sun”

Set in the late 1950s at the height of Civil Rights Movements in America, A Raisin in the Sun is a reflection of the true African American life at that era. At the time of the setting of the novel, America was undergoing a period of conformism with rapid growth of urban population and a robust development of the commercial culture. Racism and prejudice against the black was the order of the day and families struggled to come out of vicious cycles of poverty instituted by the already abolished slave trade. This, compounded with social resentment spurred the uprising by the civil rights activists, of whom a considerable number were women. A Raisin in the Sun exhibits these struggles of an African American through its plot and characters.

Revolutionary as the book was, Hansberry brought to the literary world a work that targeted the black audience, at an era when such were not the predominant readers. The book explores the culture of black people by describing some sections by use of their dialect and language. In contrast to the former works of the other authors who had used the comedic art to display black stereotypes, Hansberry writes the book to exhibit the life of a black family in an unrealistic light in a style distant from comedy. The issues brought out in the book depict the real struggles against poverty, racial disenfranchisement, identity, and the search for the American dream.

Through a prophetic stance, A Raisin in the Sun exposes feminism even before the time for feminist rights groups’ spring in America. The author addresses the issues of feminism through Beneatha, a character who propose that it is not a must for a female to get in to marriage in order to attain fulfilment. This is a depiction of an issue that would gain great resentment in a society that was highly male chauvinistic. In addition to this, the enlightenment of Beneatha makes her attend and contribute to a workshop that discusses abortion during a time when such was an issue of controversy (Emery, 44). Through a literature work, the topic of abortion enters in to open discussion and this would later become an issue of address even for the modern feminists. Exposing contentious issues in the society through a black character elevated the state of the black community during such a time when their voice did not count as much.

Despite the air of racism and discrimination that fills the atmosphere of the book, a common drive that is evident is the dreams that the characters of the book have. The motivating force behind the main characters in the book is the power of dreams and hoping for a change of their circumstances in the future (Emery, 21). In a great way, the grip that the characters have on their aspirations relieves them off the sight of their daily struggles and hard work. As one of its inspirations, the book informs the reader of the undying determination of a black family in the pursuit to overcome their challenges and maintain a family that uplifts each other. There is an ever present grow to keep the family hope alive, with anticipation for a better tomorrow.

The main characters find themselves surrounded by despotic circumstances that they have to overcome by keeping to the course of chasing their dreams. Despite having the lows of life where some of the characters question reality and the possibility of their dreams, there is a constant desire to keep pushing. Sourced from the title of the story, one of the characters questions whether some of the far-fetched dreams would ever come to pass or thy will just wither away just as “a raisin in the sun” (Hansberry, 31). It is evident that every member of the black family wants to become a great person in the future Beneatha aspires to become a doctor while Walter wishes to become wealthy so that he could be able to buy stuff for his family. As the plot unfolds, the family of Youngers steeps its happiness and misery upon the realization or inability to realize their dreams.  Family unity becomes the ultimate lesson as the story ends, having stuck with each other all along the difficulties.

Racial discrimination is evident in the plot of the story and a stumbling impediment to achievements by the family. As the family of Younger plan to move to new neighborhood, they encounter a new challenge as the organizer of the Clybourne Park Improvement Association tries to convince the family not to move to their newly found house. The main issue against entering the new house is that the neighborhood is white dominant. M. Lindner, tries to dissuade the family from the move, and the debate about this almost tears the family apart because it goes against what the family considers as its values. The family counters this by defying the societal concerns and they move the house, taking a bold step against the discrimination that was. This in in itself exposes the zeal of the family in handling situations head on, instead of being held back by the challenge of racial discrimination.

Even in the preset day, racial inequality involves the differences that occur between members of a given society with regard to acquisition of opportunities. Issues of societal stratification have occurred throughout the history of human civilization. In the olden days, there were the slaves and the masters, the rich who had volumes of wealth and the peasant farmers who toiled in their farms and the beggars who survived by borrowing on the streets. Even in the present date, racial inequality harbors the inherent consequences of economic classification with a widening gap between the poor and the rich. In early 19th and 20th century, some societies adopted the communal sharing of resources to counter the effects of social stratification. This paper discusses the types and causes of social inequalities, the effects of stratification and the ways in which societies and governments can counter this.

Racial inequality results due to the belief that certain members of a given society are disadvantaged, hence cannot access certain rights or privileges. This means that a discrepancy in the distribution of resources and access to them may exist due to geographical differences, citizenship, or inherent characteristics such as gender, race, and ethnicity. In circumstances of racial inequality, the disadvantaged group may have limitations of access to health, education and political power or expression. Accessibility to these amenities can result due to poverty or geographical marginalization. In another setting, a minority ethnic group may lack political significance due to the reason of not being part of the majority (Kousar, 66). An individual can possess a status from either of the two main societal stereotypes. These statuses are the one that one earns through education or serving the society in a certain way, which is known as the achieved status. One acquires the second type of status by virtue of birth and is referred to as the ascribed status. An example of an acquired status is race and ethnicity. A status can also be labelled upon an individual or a group of people by the stereotypes that the dominant forces may have. Such beliefs are conceived by the theory of the insentient mind and could work for the disadvantage of those that such beliefs target.

The parenting of role of an African American mother is exhibited in the character of Lena Younger (Mama). She is a mother of virtue, who does not tolerate inadequacies. She teaches her children morals and values despite the family facing constant challenges due to poverty. Hers is a dedication to hard work, humility and honesty (Kousar, 67). Despite teaching her children these, Mama has fears for her children as she wonders whether they would grow into the adults she always wants them to become. Mama worries for her son’s obsession money and she fears for Beneatha’s believe that there is no God. Being a staunch Christian, Mama struggles to establish a motherly relationship with her defiant children who do not hold the values that she teaches them as dear as she would want them to (Hansberry, 22). Beneatha’s questioning of the existence of God even makes Mama slap her on the cheek.

Beneatha struggles to gain an education, although it distances her from the family. She looks beyond her struggles with admiration of the future, hoping to change the circumstances at her home. In spite of the fact that her education somehow makes her look down upon her less educated mother, she later becomes cognizant of the realities of her family. Beneatha comes to the realization that her mother’s struggles were to create a future for her and enable her gain an education, thus she dedicates herself to hard work in order to get her family from the miserable situation. She aspires to become a physician and help people, because of the kindness and generosity that she gains with time. Gaining of the college education is not a smooth ride for Beneatha but it ultimately turns her into a progressive female, who remains conscious of the issues facing females in America. Her political awakening gives her audacity to talk about matters related to civil rights, abortion and other feminist rights.

The struggle for identity in America is displayed through Beneatha and her Nigerian boyfriend Asagai. Despite being in America for a long period and having undergone through the western education system, Beneatha still admires her Africanism as she wears the Nigerian clothes given to her by her boyfriend and also listens to African music (Hansberry, 34). This gives an impression that the black community in America had not fully embraced it as their home but still held dear their African origin, even after living in the new land for generations. George, another black boyfriend to Beneatha disregards their true African identity as he takes the American nationalism with great admiration and claims that those still rooted in the Africanism only hinder their progress (Kousar, 66). Beneatha finds this quite ridiculous to have such a view and she inclines herself more towards Asagai hoping to marry him someday and even become a doctor in Africa.

In conclusion, Hansberry displays the contest that existed between the blacks and the white, with the white community continually trouncing the blacks in the acquisition of amenities. The reaction of the black community towards this oppression by their counterparts. In a rhetorical style the author of the book exposes the fight for identity that the black community had stages, with some of them qualifying for racial passing and assimilation. In the quagmire of racial discrimination, however, Hansberry brings out the celebration of Africanism and the black people heritage in their struggle to gain equal rights and identity in the American soil. There is an inherent determination of the black people to gain liberation from white oppression, an awakening that also occurs around the same period as the fight for decolonization of Africa intensifies. Africanism and its true nature is defined in the way the family of the protagonist is inspired to overcome the odds to maintain an identity.

Works Cited

Emery, S. (2016). Prefiguring Postblackness: Cultural Memory, Drama, and the African American Freedom Struggle of the 1960s.

Hansberry, L. (2007). A Raisin in the Sun. Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic.

Kousar, R., & Sarfraz, N. (2014). Study of Black Consciousness in A Raisin in The Sun. International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature3(4), 65-68.

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