A Raisin in the Sun Essay
Through depicting Beneatha’s changing of her hair, the (Hansberry, Nemiroff, and Baraka, 61) is attempting to show how the minority blacks are socially conditioned to follow the Caucasian standards of beauty. Beneatha has straightened her hair in order to get rid of her African black image but The Nigerian student Asagai who tells her that what she did was nothing but “mutilated” her hair (Hansberry, Nemiroff, and Baraka, 61). Here, the contrast in the characters of the two is evident. Asagai is confident in his African identity but Beneatha looks like she is confused and has self-doubt. This incident depicts her vulnerability as she again starts to hesitate whether she did the right thing by altering her hair, once Asagai calls it mutilation. It can also be inferred that she puts great value for Asagai’s opinion. This is why author has written in the play, “she looks back to the mirror, disturbed”, when she hears Asagai ask her, “were you born with it (born with the hair) like that?” (Hansberry, Nemiroff, and Baraka, 61). Asagai is smiling throughout this episode and even laughing loud at her confusion (Hansberry, Nemiroff, and Baraka, 61). He is aware of his superiority over her. And she is not emotionally honest enough to tell him the real reason why she changed her hair. Instead she finds an excuse in telling him that she changed the hair because “it was hard to manage…when it is raw” (Hansberry, Nemiroff, and Baraka, 61).
The drama of the play is brought to a new dimension when the scene of Walter lets his son know he is still have the plan to involve in the liquor store deal. This is because, it is only in this moment that the audience sees a different side of Walter’s personality as he generally strikes to the audience as a restless and quarreling person. But in this scene, the reader or viewer of the play is reminded of the real human being that Walter is. This scene becomes a sad revelation into the truth that even the worst villain could be very insecure and trying to cope with his realities. The words he says about his dream future are words that he might have murmured in his head for the whole of his life. For example, he says:
I’ll pull the car up on the driveway . . . just a plain black Chrysler, I think, with white walls—no—black tires . . . the gardener will be clipping away at the hedges and he’ll say, “Good evening, Mr. Younger.” And I’ll say, “Hello, Jefferson, how are you this evening?” And I’ll go inside and Ruth will come downstairs and meet me at the door and we’ll kiss each other and she’ll take my arm and we’ll go up to your room to see you sitting on the floor with the catalogues of all the great schools in America around you. . . . All the great schools in the world! (Hansberry, Nemiroff, and Baraka, 109).
Here the ideal life Walter had dreamed to live unfolds. It is also shown that he was not simply a person who was after money but someone who wanted to have emotional bonding with his family and to have his children given better opportunities of education. This is a moment of truth in the play and it greatly heightens the emotional side of the play. When Walter returns to his commonly visible self after this scene, the sadness of the situation will linger in the minds of the audience and thus escalate the drama of the play. I would include this scene in the play because it throws light into a different side of the character of Walter. It adds a new dimension to and enriches the character.
Lena Younger is a highly religious matriarch. Her sense of morality makes her stand against her son’s plans to start a liquor store (Hansberry, Nemiroff, and Baraka, 42-43). The use of God’s name in an improper way (as perceived by Lena) infuriates Lena and she starts lecturing her daughter and grand-daughter on God’s providence (Hansberry, Nemiroff, and Baraka, 50-51). And she stringently warns her daughter against criticizing God in her house (Hansberry, Nemiroff, and Baraka, 51). From all these incidents, it is evident that she is very conservative. But all the same it is revealed in the play that Lena is very class conscious and politically aware when she counters the arguments of Mrs. Johnson who opines that Walter would be satisfied in the job of a chauffeur. She retaliates with the words:
My husband always said being any kind of servant wasnt a fit thing for a man to have to be. He always said a mans hands was made to make things, or turn the earth with-not to drive nobodys car for em-or…carry they slop jars. And my boy is just like him-he wasnt meant to wait on nobody. (Hansberry, Nemiroff, and Baraka, 103)
Here, the perspective of Lena regarding class is revealed as she if found to believe that no body can be inferior or superior just because of his/her class. But Mrs. Johnson believes that “education has spoiled many a good plow hand” (Hansberry, Nemiroff, and Baraka, 103). After talking to Mrs, Johnson, Lena is more convinced of her son’s right to become an entrepreneur though she morally disagrees with his plan to start a liquor store. In this way, Lena is far more intelligent, honest than Mrs. Johnson. She also has great self-esteem as an African American, which is totally lacking in Mrs. Johnson.
Hansberry, Lorraine, Nemiroff, Robert and Baraka, Imamu Amiri, “A raisin in the sun: and, The sign in Sidney Brusteins window”, New York: Vintage Books, 1995.Print.