Soul Food: A Raisin In The Sun Essay, Research Paper
Soul Food: A Raisin in the Sun
Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” and George Tillman’s box-office hit Soul Food explore the hardships and trials of black family life, and through the characters, setting, and theme of both the story and the film, the issue of class and the search for community is discussed.
The theme indicated in these stories is the search for community. Mama Younger wanted her family to come closer. The more she tried, the farther apart they became. During her struggle, she encountered many obstacles including her own son’s beliefs, but she did not let them curve her appetite to gain higher status in society. Similarly, in Soul Food, Mama Joe struggled with keeping her family together, due to their different ideas and beliefs. Her daughters’ arguing continued even after her death, but with the help of her grandson Ahmad, the Joseph family remained as one piece. The family is the first and most important community in everyone’s lives. Maintaining family unity is the primary theme featured in these stories.
The characteristics of the main characters found in Soul Food are also found in the characters in “A Raisin in the Sun.” The matriarchs of both families are similar in many aspects. The overall description of Mama Younger as “ a woman in her early sixties, full bodied and strong…wit and faith of a kind that keeps her eyes lit and full of interest and expectancy” describes the character of Mother Joe, played by Irma P. Hall in Soul Food. Both characters have lost their husbands and are trying to maintain a stable family life. Beneatha, the youngest daughter of Mama Younger resembles Bird, the youngest daughter of Mother Joe, played by Nia Long. Their narrow view of life and lack of wisdom due to their age resembles a weak part of the black family link. Both Beneatha and Bird are na?ve in their sense of faith and have not had a chance to experience the world on their own. Beneatha’s second thoughts about becoming a doctor when Agasai asks her to go to Africa with him and Bird’s decision to go to work when her husband Lem tells her that she doesn’t have to displays the weakness that both Mother Joe and Mama Younger have overcome. Beneatha and Bird must learn to follow their dreams no matter what happens. Lem, the son-in-law of Mother Joe, mirrors Walter Lee’s character. Walter Lee is undependable and known for getting into trouble with money. These negative attributes also pertain to Lem, played by Mekhi Phifer. These men are given the chance to show their trustworthiness to their families but always fail in the end. In the Younger family, Travis is the glue that keeps everyone bound together. This is true also for Ahmad, the glue of the Joseph family. These families thrive on the future of these two youngest characters. The quarreling and bickering that occurs in these families are for the love of the two young boys and their welfare. The similarities these two families have make the comparison of these works simple to understand and to relate to.
The settings of these narratives are alike in several ways. First, both are tales of African American middle class families living in south side Chicago. The whole family lives together in both stories, which promotes togetherness and family life. The opening scene of the movie Soul Food is a visual representation of the description of what the Younger living room used to look like before all of the family dilemmas: “comfortable…well-ordered…polished and washed…arranged with taste and pride.” George Tillman, Jr. based the storyline of Soul Food on his own childhood experience of growing up in his family, just like Lorraine Hansberry. The related settings of these two stories allow the plot to be easily recognized and understandable.
Hansberry’s story deals with the struggle of a middle class family in the 1950’s. Mama Younger has lost her husband and the family receives an ample amount of money to supply them with the things that they need. Walter Lee wants to invest in a liquor store, but Mama decides to buy a house in a better neighborhood in order to start a new life for her family. Tillman’s tale of contemporary African American family life is somewhat similar to Hansberry’s story. Mother Joe loses her husband, who has left a large amount of money somewhere in the house, to use for the family’s needs. Her oldest and greediest daughter, Teri, wants to sell the family house, which is an heirloom to the Joseph line. After Mama Joe dies of diabetes, the rest of the family decides to restore the old house in honor of their mother and grandmother. Similarities in plot connect these stories and allow the reader to define the overall theme of both literary works.
The relationship between “A Raisin in the Sun” and Soul Food is closely knit. The authors used many of the same attributes to create great characters, descriptive settings, and in depth themes, such as personal experiences and portrayals of real life people. Both works have qualities that make each of them unique in its own way, but their similarities define the issues of topic excellently.