A Raisin in the Sun: The Duality of African-America, George Murchison and Joseph Asagai

Since the forced-migration to the Americas, African-Americans have been assigned between two cultures: being African and being American. Both cultures are forced upon African-Americans who lack a culture of their own. Neither Africa nor America is truly home to the African-American and the connections between both cultures have been separated. In the play, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, the duality of African-American race is explored within the characters of Joseph Asagai and George Murchison – boyfriends of Beneatha Younger. Asagai and Murchison portray the struggle African-Americans encounter when they try to be either African or American. African-Americans face a great deal of strife when they seek to be both African and American.

In Souls of Black Folk, WEB Dubois discusses the duality African-Americans face. Dubois writes,

“It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness, – an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” (Dubois 694).

Dubois also writes,

“The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife, – this longing to attain self-consciousness, manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He would not Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message f…

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…solely American. A Raisin in the Sun reinforces the idea that African-Americans have identified with the same beliefs, goals, and dreams of all Americans because they lack a strong culture of their own.

Works Cited

Dubois, WEB. Comp. Henry Louis. Gates and Nellie Y. McKay. The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2004. 694-695. Print.

Hansberry, Lorraine. “A Raisin In The Sun.” Comp. Henry Louis. Gates and Nellie Y. McKay. The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2004. 1771-830. Print.

James, Johson Weldon. Comp. Henry Louis. Gates and Nellie Y. McKay. The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2004. 832. Print.

McKay, Claude. “The Tropics in New York by Claude McKay.” The Poetry Foundation. Web. 28 Oct. 2011.

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