Untitled Essay Research Paper A Raisin in

Untitled Essay, Research Paper

A Raisin in the Sun

The characters in Lorraine Hansberry^s play are very significant in

understanding the play. The characters are examples of they way

Lorraine lived day by day her live when she was a kid. The success of

the play was brought out by the characters and her way of keeping our

interest with each one of them. They characters are very critical in

understanding the play. There were four main characters that made the

play a sellout, Lena, Ruth, Beneatha and Walter Lee. Each one of these

characters had a dream to try to accomplish. The Characters portray

the plays meaning in the way the play evolved into a masterpiece.

Lorraine Hansberry studied African history while working

on A

Raisin in the Sun. She incorporated her knowledge of the

history and wanted to bring it over in to her play. Beneatha a

character in A Raisin in the Sun knows much about her African past.

Mama is very proud of her African heritage and believing it^s

importance. During the stage directing of the play Lena has the ^noble

bearings of the women of the heroes of the Southwest Africa , but she

totally ignores her African past and does not care much about it

either^ (Cheney 59). Asagai Beneatha^s acquaintance talks allot about

his African past and believes deeply in his culture and heritage. He

is from Nigeria where there is a lot of poverty.

A Raisin in the Sun is a quiet

celebration of the black

family the importance of African

roots, the equality of

women, the vulnerability of marriage,

the true value of

money, the survival of the individual

and the nature of

mans dreams (Cheney 55).

Africa is a great part of the play because it brings out good and

humorous elements in the Younger family, such as Walter yelling out

^Hot Damn!^ ^Flaming Spear!^ as Beneatha walks out in her Nigerian

robes (Cheney 60). Africa becomes a symbol of heritage and a

troublesome but hopeful future (Cheney 56).

With the help of Paul Robeson, W.E.B Dubois and


Douglass she created the play A Raisin in the Sun. Paul

Robeson was a famous baritone singer. He inspired her to write A

Raisin in the Sun. She loved his voice and the songs he sang.

Hansberry learned from him ^…the way that most blacks lived, and the

dangers of being an artist^ (Cheney 45-46). W.E.B Dubois was an

original thinker and a sociologist. Hansberry ^…gained admiration

for black intellectual, socialism, and black leadership^ (Cheney 40).

Frederick Douglass was a another writer. Hansberry learned about

slavery and its psychology. She also learned a ^…invaluable lesson

that the sufferings of a people may be presented truthfully in ways

that rise above propaganda to the level of art^ (Cheney 36-37). A

Raisin in the Sun is a very interesting play about the Younger^s, a

family that lives in the Chicago south side ghetto. The characters in

the play are Ruth her husband Walter, their son Travis, also Beneatha

and Lena. The family is poor and very much so hopeless in finding a

new home. Lena is lucky though she found a very nice home in Clyborne

Park in a white neighborhood. In the beginning of the play the family

is waiting for a 10,000 dollar check. Each family member has there own

thoughts on what they should do with the money. Lena wants a new home

and so she could support the family, Walter wants to invest the money

in a liquor store, and Beneatha wants the money so she could pay for

medical school. According to Lorraine Hansberry, Joseph Asagai was her

favorite character to create. He is a Nigerian student who is

Beneatha^s confidant. Mama is a very good example of a black matriarch

trying to keep her family in line. Mama is a very religious women.

She is up set and smacks Beneatha when Beneatha tells her that she does

not believe in God. Mama tells her that if she lives in her house she

must believe in God. Henry Hewes opinion was that ^the play contained

dramaturgical implications which were brought out by Walter^ (Hewes


Theophilus Lewis notion was ^the drama had a great sense


spiritual conflict in the area of Walter Younger^s soul

with an

obbligato of social awareness^ (Lewis 216). According to James Baldwin

he thought this play was ^excellent and never before in the entire

history of the American theater had so much of the truth of Black

peoples lives been on stage^ (Baldwin 55).

Many critics thought that the characters had most to do


the play an how the play was perceived. Jordan Y. Miller

thought ^A Raisin in the Sun is one of the greatly enhanced by well

ordered revelation of the events which are so important in the lives of

the characters^ (Miller). Also Lorraine Hansberry kept our interest by

developing the characters through out the play. The characters are

people who collaborated with other people and confronting there

confusion and anger. Gerald Weales thought the play was old fashion

and had almost no serious playwright. However he thought ^the plays

strength lied in the characters and the problem of Walter Lee^

(Weales). If the play was to be written differently it would have had

no real significant meaning. Amari Baraka another dramatist ^liked the

play and thought that the characters had a big part in developing it^.

^The play was enjoying and revival^ according to Mr. Baraka. ^The

characters were critical to its dramatic tensions and understanding^

(Baraka). Beneatha had a real strong sense of her racial pride. She

had a powerful believe in her culture and heritage. The play was also

about dreams. Beneatha wanted to be a medical student, Ruth wanted to

get away from the run-down neighborhood, and Walter wanted his liquor

store. Theophilus Lewis from The Catholic World had this to say ^The

plight of the Youngers enfiladed by economic insecurity from one side

and by race prejudice from the other offers the author obvious

opportunities to indulge in propaganda for interracial justice^ (Lewis

215). Mr. Lewis again thought the play ^…stirs the emotions of some

observers while pricking the conscience of others^ (Lewis 215). In the

end Harold Clurman thought the play ^was an authentic portrait of the

aspirations, anxieties, ambitions and contradictory pressures of

affecting a humble Negro family in a big city^ (Clurman 212).

In conclusion the play itself and the characters resemble


way Lorraine lived. The four characters Lena, Ruth,


and Walter Lee, made the play into a enjoying drama by there dialogue

and actions. Hansberry believed strongly in her African heritage, and

she incorporated her knowledge of her African past by associating it

mostly between Beneatha and Asagai. The way Hansberry describes her

characters each one had to depend on one another for support in

survival. I thought Hansberry^s drama of a Negro family struggling for

survival was excellent by the way she made that play revolve around her

childhood, and the way she developed each character.


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