A Raisin in the Sun
The Changes in a Raisin in The Sun, My Big Fat Greek Wedding And American Born Chinese
The most important decision about your goals is not what you are willing to do to achieve them, but what you are willing to give up¨, Dave Ramsey tells readers. A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry was a play created to tell the story of a poor African American family that live in the southside of Chicago during the 1950’s.They received $10,000 from insurance and Mama takes the money and buys a house in a white neighborhood. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang is a graphic novel about Jin Wang who moves from San Francisco and is being stereotyped by all the kids in his class just because he’s Asian. My Big Fat Greek Wedding by Nia Vardalos is a movie about a 30 year old Greek women who falls in love with a non-greek man but he goes out of his way to please her family and change his beliefs just so he could be with her. The most common theme between all three stories is that everyone changes in a way at the end and they all have to give something up in order to grow. All the characters in the three stories had to go threw the hardships of life just to get what they wanted.
A Raisin in the Sun
In A Raisin in the Sun, Mama gave up the $10,000 that she got just for her family. She wanted them to live a better life and so she moved them into a house that was spacious and were Travis didn’t have to sleep on the couch and were they didn’t have to take turns for the shower with other people outside their family. Her kids wanted to do other things with the money but she knew it would be best if she used the money towards a house instead of purchasing a liquor store and medical school.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
In My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Toula, changes herself. She goes to college and works at the agency instead of just working for her parents at their restaurant, she wanted more for herself in life. Ian, Toulas boyfriend also changes throughout the movie. He changes his religion and beliefs just so he could be with the women he loves. He didnt care what he had to do, he just wanted her. Gus changes as well throughout the movie. In the beginning he was not accepting of Ian and didn’t want his daughter to marry or even date a non-greek, but as he sees what Ian would do for her he has a change of heart and accepts the fact that Toula love´s Ian and that they are getting married.
American Born Chinese
Lastly, in the novel American Born Chinese JIn Wang changes from being seen as a stereotypical Chinese kid to being an american little boy. Chasing your dreams was another common theme between the three stories. Who knows if Toula would have ever meet Ian if she never went to college and quit working at the restaurant. Her family never thought she was going to get married, but because she saw how others were living their life and were already married and had kids she wanted that for herself. And she got that with the support of her mom and aunts. Walter had the dream of buying his own liquor store so he could provide a better life for his family. Beneatha wanted to go to medical school and needed the $10,000 to do so but Mama knew using the money towards a house would have been more beneficial. In ABC Jin Wang´s dream was too fit in and be like a regular boy.
Everyone goes through hard times in life. That’s just the way it is, but people can always learn from the difficult times and their mistakes. People have to work hard for what they want in life and if that means coming across bumps in road they can hopefully make it worthier and learn. You have to work hard to accomplish your goals and that may cause you to make bad decisions but it will be worth it in the end.
The American Dream in “A Raisin in The Sun” By Lorraine Hansberry
A Raisin In The Sun is a book based around what each individual sees as the better life. Every human has a different idea of what they think is the better life. The book focuses on completing your dream no matter the struggle. Mama wants to take care of her family (even though Walter should be doing that) with her husband. Every morning mama waters her plants and tells everyone that even though it doesn’t get enough sunlight it’s still breathing. This sentence is talking about how mama never gave up on her dreams even though it seemed unlikely.
Then mama didn’t want her family to split up used some of the money to buy a house so they can live together in an all-white neighborhood. Mama is the king of the house and always makes sure that her family are taken care of and that each one is a good person. She wants them to have more respect for themselves and to succeed. Ruth or Walter’s wife wants the same dream as mama. She wants a big happy family that can live together in a big house, and Ruth got so happy when she found out mama bought a house.
Beneatha’s dream is to become a doctor and prove that your race doesn’t matter and that should always strive for your dreams. She grew up in a society where women stay at home and tedious work instead of actual jobs. And money was also a big part in holding her back since before the check she was most likely not be able to go to med school. She is different to where she is not like other girls her age because it’s usual to be a sit inside wife and tend to the house. Beneatha and her brother Walter didn’t agree on what a better life actually was. Beneatha thinks Walter’s idea is a waste of money, and she thinks Walter doesn’t have the drive or skills to be successful and is happy mama said no to the liquor store.
Walter’s character is someone who can change their attitude instantly throughout the book (to be honest Walter sounds bipolar) because of his idea of a better life. Walter isn’t a bad person it’s just his idea of a better life has made him act differently because he was given the chance to have more money. He wants so badly to be the only provider and the one who takes care for the house. Walter is also embarrassed about his job as a chauffeur driver. He thinks he is loved by how much he makes and how successful he is. Because of this he goes through with his plan even though Mama, and Beneatha said no and loses all his money to Willy who ran off with the money, and even bobo his other partner said he put his savings into it.
After a good talking to he realized how important family and what is more important in life. Besides all the problems the Youngers went through they were still able to stick together and move to the new house the dream they all should have had.
A Raisin in the Sun Book and Film Adaptation: a Comparison Piece
Lorraine Hansberry wrote the play A Raisin in the Sun in 1950 in New York; the play’s first performance was in 1959. The play touched on a very emotive topic at the time, that of racism. The play attracting a broad audience from both the white and black communities and consequently it was adapted into film twice; first in 1961 and then in 2008, starring Sean Combs. The play and movie showcases a week in the lives of the Younger family who receive $10,000 as a life insurance check. The films are adaptations of the play hence there are numerous similarities; however, there are also differences.
One similarity is that both the films and the play are set in the Younger’s house in the Southside of Chicago. However, one significant difference is that events in the play all happen in the living room while in the films there are different sets such as the bar, new house, and Walter’s work. The addition of sets gives the audience a broader understanding of the Younger family.
In both the play and the films, Walter stops working after he is not entrusted with the money to start his venture. Lena, feeling guilty, entrusts him with the remaining money. In the films, Lena takes the money to him in a bar. However, in the play, the scene takes place inside the apartment.
Another major similarity is that in both the Younger family decides to move to the new house knowing very well that their soon to be white neighbors do not welcome them. One major difference is that in the films the audience is shown the family in their new house. Even though they are unsure about their future, the added scene gives the audience a sense of hope that things will be better.
I felt the films were much more interesting than the play. The play held its own in delivering the message to the audience, but the added scenes in the films built a bit more contrast and broadened the viewer experience. The scenes in the bar and the family moving to the new house created feelings and perceptions that were not as advanced in the play. All in all, both medium highlight an important message that we should give up on our dreams as the Younger family persevered and eventually theirs were fulfilled.
Depiction of the Relationship Between a Writer and Their Work in the Play A Raisin in The Sun
Lorraine Hansberry grew up on Chicago’s South Side. She used this setting in her writing of “A Raisin in the Sun”. Lorraine Hansberry uses her life events in her writing because she had no one to talk to when she was little since all of her siblings were older. In her autobiography she says “the last born is an object toy”, from the “Young, Gifted and Black”, which basically means no one wanted anything to do with her. The theme she conveys in both her fictional writing and autobiography is love and racism. Racism is shown in her life because she had to deal with with being beat up at school and not feeling safe at home. People would throw things through their windows to try to hurt/scare them.In her writing, the Youngers have to face not being welcomed into a new “white” community.Love is definitely a major part and theme in both her writing and autobiography because of these hardships that were present in her childhood.The question appears, when is the right time to love someone.
There are a lot of connections between Lorraine Hansberry’s life and her writing. She faces hardships like when her hardworking father died. She incorporated his death into her writing. The Younger’s hardworking father died too, and he also tried to do what was best for his family. She also writes about how mama loves her kids when they need it the most, and her real mom shows them tough love and doesn’t share her feelings about love directly, but she still loves them and protects them from the harsh world in which they are living. When Lorraine Hansberry’s dad died, her mom and siblings comforted each other. This shows that they loved each other when they needed it, and not when they were at their highest point, but at their lowest point. In her writing, mama talks to Beneatha about loving people and family when they need it the most, not when they are fine.When they get treated poorly by racist people in her real life, Hansberry’s mother takes on the role as the protector, and guards her house and family from harm. In her writing, mamatakes on the the role as the head of the house and tries to protect and do what’s best for her family. Mama’s main role in the play is to show that they all need to support each other, and Lorraine Hansberry’s real mom doesn’t show a lot of love, but she shows support and affection.
The theme of both her life and writing is to know when the right time to love is. Some examples from the play are when the mama gave a speech to Beneatha about when to love someone. She told Beneatha that she should love Walter now, because he is going through a hard time in his life. Mama says, “It’s when he’s at his lowest and can’t believe in hisself’ cause the world done whipped him so!” (page 145). By this she means that when a person is in the deepest battle and doesn’t have any more to give, that is when that person needs the most support. In her autobiography, she says, “At his funeral I at last, in my memory, saw my mother hold her sons that way, and for the first time in her life my sister held me in her arms I think”. Lorraine Hansberry’s family loved each other when they were at their lowest point, just like in the play when mama says her love speech.
In the play, the Younger’s are faced with racism when Mr. Lindner comes and says, “Our association is prepared, through the collective effort of the people, to buy the house from you at a financial gain to your family” (page 118). This means that the “white community” that they are moving to doesn’t want them there and that they will do almost anything to not have them move into their neighborhood. This is when mama thinks people should love each other the most too, because they have to go through a hard time like this. In her autobiography, she says that her mother would stay up at night and guard her house from the racist people. In her autobiography she says, “And I also remember my desperate and courageous mother, patrolling our house all night with a loaded German Luger”. This is an example of loving when people need it the most too.
In the play and Lorraine Hansberry’s life, there are many connections. The theme of love and racism brings these two worlds together. In the play, mama is a very stern, passionate, and respected figure. She firmly believes in loving people in their time of need, not their time of greatness. In Lorraine Hansberry’s life, her mother is also a very passionate and respected figure. Her mother shows her love to her family when they are faced with obstacles such as racism and a family death. Lorraine Hansberry also used her dad to make connections between her writing and life. In the play, the Younger’s dad died, but they describe him as a very hardworking man that loved his family. She says in “To Be Young, Gifted and Black”, “Imagine in my mind is a man whom kings might have imitated and properly created their own flattering descriptions of.” She is saying that her father was a man that even a king would look up to. Lorraine Hansberry’s father died when they were young too, and he was also a hardworking man.
When is it the right time to love? According to Lorraine Hansberry’s writing and real life encounters, the right time to love is when they are in their darkest hour. She uses her family members in real life to create her storyline. Lorraine Hansberry also uses her writing to let her emotions out about her life, because when she was younger, she had no siblings that wanted anything to do with her. Being the youngest of the family makes it hard she says because by the time you get older, your siblings have had enough and become bored with you. Her mom and dad really help her make the connection between the real world, and her writing. With her mom showing love when needed, and her dad being hardworking, they complement the characters in the play almost exactly.
Representation of the Future Life Progression in the Novels A Raisin in the Sun and New Year
The Future is Coming
Picture the world in ten, twenty, thirty, or maybe even forty years and compare that to the present. Cultures, styles, and beliefs will change in the future. The world cannot stay the same for decades, it must move ahead; but the old beliefs are never forgotten. For example, to the family in A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, they are still following their own beliefs from the past and are adding new ones as the future comes. On the other side, the family or the clan from New Year by Gail Harada are still celebrating the New Year’s holiday with their old and new traditions. While the play talks about old and new beliefs; and the poem talks about old and new traditions, both are conveying the same message that the world will move on and new ideas will come, but the past and its ideas will remain unforgotten!
In New Year by Gail Harada, “This is the old way, the whole clan gathered, the rice steaming over the charcoal…” (Lines 1-3), the quote flashed back to the old tradition of celebrating New Year’s Day. The tradition the poem shows is that their clan is gathering together to celebrate and enjoy themselves. In Asian culture, it is traditional for families and friends to gather up and celebrate. In another part of the poem, “This is the old way, setting off firecrackers to drive away evil spirits, leaving the driveways red for good fortune…” (Lines 20-22), the quote tells the reader that newer ideas are being mixed with older ones. Parts of the quote are showing old ideas, but the newer ideas are also being told. Another quote from the poem, “The new year arrives, deaf, smelling of gunpowder.” (Lines 23-24), the quote tells us that the new ideas the old generations might not understand are being more known to people in the future. The activities told here are new ideas and the author is introducing them to the readers. The clan did remind readers that the world is moving on and new beliefs are being created, but the world will never forget the past and its beliefs.
The family in A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry also reminded readers that there are new ideas, but the old ones still exist. In the play, an example would be that the mother is having a difficult time understanding her son, Walter Lee Younger because they both have different goals with the money that their family had. This quote said by Walter, “Yeah You see, this little liquor store we got in mind cost seventy-five thousand…There’s a couple of hundred you got to pay sob’s you don’t spend your life just waiting for them clowns to let your license get approved.” (p. 15) proves that he wants to spend the money on investing in a liquor store. This quote said by Mama, “You mean that liquor store? We isn’t no business people…We even picked out the house” (p.24) shows the reader that Mama strongly disagrees with Walter’s idea of using the money to invest in a liquor store. Mama would rather spend that money on a new and better house for the family to live in. Walter has a new idea that Mama’s family had never thought of in the past. Mama wants her son to understand her past beliefs. Later in the play, Walter then realizes that his mother is right and he did not invest in a liquor store. This is similar to the clan in the play because the clan realized their old traditions and they decided to celebrate New Year’s Day in that style. It conveys the message that old ideas are still present because when Mama is still alive, she can show her and teach her family her old beliefs and ideas. Another quote from the play in Act III indicated by Mama, “…Isn’t nobody in my family never let nobody pay’em no money…” shows the reader that Mama’s old belief is to never take money from people. She then taught Walter that idea so that he can follow it. Walter wanted to take the money before his mother taught him her old belief and wants Walter to understand it. At the end, Mr. Lindner offered money to buy the house from Walter, he refuses to take the money because his mother taught him to never take money. Since the family did not take the offered money, they went into financial issues and had make a lot of sacrifices. The family’s new idea is to sacrifice because the older generation of the family did not have to suffer. This is similar to the poem when new and old are mixing. The new idea is to sacrifice and suffer in order to follow the old idea which is to not take payment from anyone. Finally, this quote said by Walter, “…we come from people who had a lot of pride. I mean—we are very proud people. And that’s my sister over there and she’s going to be a doctor —and we are very proud“ shows the reader that Walter’s family is united and together because they are proud people filled with pride. This is like the clan that is when they are getting together and celebrating a holiday. It is the point that the family in the play is not only together and united, but they are also following their old beliefs as well.
In the end, both families from different stories convey the idea that the new is coming, but the old is not dead. Both families are different, but they show the same concept. Both families have learned to be prepared for the future and the new beliefs. It is important to know that the past will never disappear because it creates history. History will always allow us to not only remember the past and its culture, but to also learn and embellish the past. As the world progresses to the future, new ideas will come while the old ones are creating history and the future generations can learn and treasure about the old ideas. The world will never be stuck on a specific generation and the ideas will be the same, new ideas will always be created, but it does not mean that the old ones are permanently gone.
Generational Disparity in Hansberry’s a Raisin in the Sun
The African-American experience of growing up in America changed dramatically throughout the course of the twentieth century, thus leading to differing views between the older and younger generations. In Lorraine Hansberry’s play, A Raisin in the Sun, the character of Mama was raised during a point in time when racial prejudice was prevalent and blacks had virtually no opportunity to live out their dreams. On the other hand, her children, Walter and Beneatha, and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, grow up in a world where slavery exists only in history books, and although they still face financial hardship and racial discrimination, it is possible for blacks to become successful business men or even doctors. The younger generation’s concept of the American dream reflects the changing times and the new opportunities that are now available for African-Americans. As a result of this generation gap, Mama and her children view the issues of religion, career choice, and abortion from extremely different angles, leading to much tension and anger in their relationship.
By viewing the dreams of Mama in comparison to the dreams of her children, one can clearly see the generation gap that exists between them. As a result of the changing times, Mama’s dreams differ extremely from those of her children. She grew up in a time of much oppression and hardship – a time when she was unable to live out the simplest of dreams. All Mama ever wanted was a house with “a little garden in the back” (1209). After all, back then it was the most an African-American could hope for. During the 1960s however, it is much more common for an African-American to own a house, and since Walter grows up with this possibility, owning a house is not a high goal to set for himself. Instead, he sets his sights on a much more elaborate dream than his mother, in particular, being a successful businessman able to “pull [a] car up on the driveway” where his “gardener will be clipping away at the hedges” (1239-1240). Mama disapproves of Walter’s dream, for she believes that they are not “business people,” but rather “just plain working folks” (1208). She does not realize that nowadays African-Americans have more opportunities than she had growing up, and that, according to Walter, “colored people [are not] going to start getting ahead [until] they start gambling on some different kinds of things in the world, [such as] investments” (1208). Normally it would not be a problem for a grown man to make an investment that his mother does not approve of. However, Mama has the ten thousand dollars from her husband’s insurance money that Walter needs in order to start his business. Because Mama does not agree with her son’s choice to become a businessman, more specifically an owner of a liquor store, she refuses to give him the money. After Walter finds out that his mother spent the money on a down-payment for a house, thus fulfilling her own dream, he becomes enraged. When Mama wishes for Walter to tell her that he believes she did the right thing, he insults her:
What you need me to say you done right for? . . . It was your money and you did what you wanted with it. So you butchered up a dream of mine – you – who always talking ’bout your children’s dreams . . . (1233).
Thus, because of their differing views on how the money should be spent, Walter and Mama are constantly at odds with one another.
Mama’s disapproval does not stop with Walter’s decision to invest in a liquor store, but continues with Ruth’s decision to have an abortion. Mama has lived in poverty for her entire life, and it is because of this poverty that she lost her baby, “little Claude” (1209). She believes that “[they] are . . . people who give children life, not . . . destroy [it]” (1223). Ruth, however, has had the opportunity to raise a healthy son, and since she has never known any other way, she takes this for granted. Ruth does not view her unborn child as part of the family, and thus when determining what is in her family’s best interest, she fails to think of the baby. Ruth comes to the conclusion that bringing another child into their already crowded apartment would be unfair to her family. Mama, on the other hand, is grateful for being able to have the opportunity to give birth to a healthy baby, since she knows that at the time many African-American babies were dying from poverty, and just a short time before, from slavery. It is because of this that she strongly disagrees with Ruth’s decision to have an abortion. Mama does not understand how a woman who has the opportunity to give birth to a child would even think “about getting rid of [it]” (1223). When she informs Walter of Ruth’s decision, he is unable to say anything to his wife and leaves the room. Mama angrily yells after him, “If you a son of mine, tell her [not to have the abortion]! You . . . you are a disgrace to your father’s memory” (1223). By reading this quote, one can see that more tension arises in Walter and Mama’s relationship as a result of her strong stance on the issue of abortion.
Mama also disapproves with the fact that Beneatha no longer believes in God. Beneatha constantly takes for granted the life that she is living, and when good fortune comes her way, such as the opportunity to become a doctor, she believes that it is commonplace, and therefore nothing to be thankful for. Mama, on the other hand, grew up in a time when good fortune was hard to come by. Whenever she is having a rough time, she places her faith in God and prays that everything will turn out all right. For example, when Walter loses the money for his sister’s schooling, Mama asks God to “Look down here . . . and show [her] the strength” (1250). The issue of religion causes many arguments to occur between Beneatha and Mama, due to their different views. Beneatha, despite knowing that her mother is a religious woman, insists that “there simply is no blasted God – there is only man and it is he who makes miracles” (1212). Mama, deeply offended and disappointed in her daughter, is unable to control her anger. She slaps Beneatha across the face and insists she repeat the phrase “In my mother’s house there is still God” (1212). In addition to this, Beneatha often uses the Lord’s name in vain, thus further upsetting her mother. This constant conflict eventually takes its toll on their relationship, leaving them to feel bitterness and discomfort toward one another.
Throughout the course of the twentieth century, the concept of the American dream changed dramatically, as displayed in Lorraine Hansberry’s play, A Raisin in the Sun. Through reading the play, one can tell that a generation gap exists between Mama and her children, for they view the world from extremely different angles. Their clashing views on the issues of religion, career choice, and abortion lead to many arguments between them, and as a result, their relationship is characterized by resentment and tension.
Hansberry, Lorraine. “A Raisin in the Sun.” Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Compact ed. Ed. Robert DiYanni. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000. 1198-1260
How Family Affects Oneself in the Bean Trees and a Raisin in the Sun
What describes family is not the people who are blood related or someone who has an obligation. Family is loving someone unconditionally and mutually; family is those who greet the worst self of someone without judgement and still stick around after; family is the people who support each other through arduous times; and throughout all this, they help each other find who they really are. Family is the people who play the largest role in shaping identity. Now, that identity can take the form of a number of characteristics in relation to family. No matter how adoring a family might be, with their newfound identity, it is not always in the best interest of the individual to stay close to home. Other times, that recently developed identity may actually be found in a home. Whether it be attracting an individual to family life, like Taylor in Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees, or repulsing them, like Beneatha in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, they will always help the individual find their true identity.
Taylor Greer from Pittman County, Kentucky is an ideal example of how family life will attract an individual and they will find their identity in the home. In Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees, Taylor had always valued being independent. In the beginning of the book, she clearly did not believe she needed to rely on anybody, and set out into the world all by herself with just her car and the desire to go far away from home. Taylor takes her pride in being an individual too far and becomes angry when someone just tries to help her, such as when her roommate Lou Anne tries to help out with Turtle. Finally, something changes in Taylor after Turtle buries her dolly, “You know there’s no such thing as promises. But I’ll try as hard as I can to stay with you.” (211) In this pivotal moment, Taylor realizes the gravity of Turtle’s abandonment and that she must be the most stable force in Turtle’s life. Yet she also comes to term with the fact that some things are out of her control, like the evil in other people or death.Taylor finally registers that she should stop running away from the promise of family, because her true self is being a mother. Before, it was very clear she believed that by staying away from family, she would find herself. Taylor thought she would find her identity through solitude, only relying on herself. Rather than pushing her away, family turned out to be the element that brought her in and encouraged her to find her identity as a mother.
Family life is not suited for everyone though, especially not for Beneatha Younger. Every so often, family can repulse an individual and they will find their true selves far away from home. The character Beneatha from Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, is a prime example of this. Beneatha had trouble discovering her own identity so she tried out a number of hobbies and activities. She even went through quite a few suitors as well. Throughout all of this, the only steady thing in Bennie’s life was her family and she relied on them heavily. By sticking close to her family and not venturing out as an individual, Beneatha could not answer the questions about the world she held close to her heart. Her boyfriend, Asagai, notices that she is struggling to find herself in her situation and gives her a nickname, Alaiyo, BENEATHA You didn’t tell us what Alaiyo means… for all I know it could mean Little Idiot or something…….ASAGAI No– really it is difficult… (Thinking) It means… it means One for Whom Bread- Food- Is Not Enough. (He looks at her) Is that alright? BENEATHA (Understanding, softly) Thank you. (Hansberry 65) Finally Beneatha understands. Asagai makes her realize that the situation she’s in with her family, is not good enough for her. It is most advantageous for Beneatha to separate from her family and become an individual. She will not find her true self if she stays with her family. That is why when Asagai later asks her to move back to Africa with him and become a doctor, Beneatha really considers it. Before, Beneatha relied on her family and because of this, she was unsure about herself. Finally, she steps out and becomes an individual. By becoming a lone doctor with Asagai in Africa, Bennie gets the stepping stone to discovering herself that she never would have received if she stayed with her family.
Though Beneatha steps away from her family and Taylor creates one to find their true selves, both the Youngers and the Ruizs will always support the newfound identity of their loved one. For instance, both families at the end on The Bean Trees and A Raisin in the Sun support Taylor and Beneatha’s decision. Taylor discovers this support when Lou Ann says, “Somebody and work said, ‘Do you have a family at home?’ And I said ‘Sure,’ without thinking. I meant you all. Mainly I guess because we’ve been through hell and high water together. We know each other’s good and bad sides, stuff nobody else knows.” (Kingsolver 231) In reaction to this, Taylor becomes unable to speak for she is too emotional. After years of running away from family and avoiding becoming a mother, Taylor gives in. She realizes that she has found her truest and happiest self as a mother to Turtle in a home with Lou Ann. In addition to this, Taylor finally understands that she has gained support for this identity. In this phone call with Lou Ann, Taylor realizes that since she and Lou Ann have already been through some tough times together and supported each other then, they will definitely continue to encourage each other in the future. As for Bennie, she cannot be pushed by her family to make decisions, such as dating George Murchison just because he has a lot of money. She tries to do her own thing. Thus support goes hand in hand with understanding. Therefore, when Mama supports the decision to dump George, it means a lot to Beneatha, BENEATHA Mama, George is a fool– honest. (She rises)…. MAMA Well– I guess you better not waste your time with no fools. (BENEATHA looks at her mother, watching her put groceries in the refrigerator. Finally she gathers up her things and starts into the bedroom. At the door she stops and looks back at her mother) BENEATHA Mama– MAMA Yes baby–BENEATHA Thank you.MAMA For what?BENEATHA For understanding me this time (Hansberry 98) The reader can infer that the Youngers will let Beneatha go to Africa, if she chooses to do so, with a blessing.
After Taylor and Beneatha find themselves, their families will both do anything to help their loved one’s new identities thrive. Families like the Ruiz’ or the Youngers will always help their struggling loved ones find their true identity as they did with Taylor and Beneatha. Regardless if a life revolving family ends up being enticing, like it did for Taylor in Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees, or family life drives them away, as with Beneatha in Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. The characters can now build their lives and their home the way they want these aspects of their existences to be, because they have a strong foundation: themselves. Those closest to one’s heart will always help the individual find a true self.
A Study of the Personality of Walter Lee as Described in Lorraine Hansberry’s Play, A Raisin in The Sun
Success/Values: Walter Lee defines success as material and financial gain. Beneatha defines success as self-actualization, or learning about and nurturing oneself. But to their mother, Lena,success is less self-centered and lies more in creating a happy, healthy family. Lena frequently compares her children’s values to her own and her late husband’s, and finds her children to be less moral or spiritual in their hopes and dreams. She does not believe that material success will elevate the family, as Walter Lee does, instead observing that his grasping after success is damaging his family. Consider the generational differences in defining success, but also consider how Walter Lee’s and Beneatha’s notions of success resemble those of their parents.
Dreams: An important aspect of Walter Lee’s character is revealed in his interaction with Travis. He sees and admires his son’s ability to hope: Travis is young enough still to believe that the world is open to him and can be his if he wants it, with no limits. Walter Lee wants to believe in limitless possibilities, too, and he hangs onto his own ability to hope and dream. Travis’s innocence and hopefulness remind Walter Lee of his own potential for dreaming.
Walter Lee’s feelings about his dreams and Ruth’s attitude toward them crystallize in this passage. He is desperate to escape the circumstances of his life, and his dreams represent his belief that he can still change his life, in spite of his weak financial position. But the fact that Ruth does not support him drags him down; part of Walter Lee’s vision of his life is that he should have a wife who believes in him.
Walter is feeling the pressure of having so many people to take care of. He works at a full-time job, but Ruth must also work in order for the family to stay afloat. Walter Lee lashes out at his sister because he can’t say to his mother or his son what he feels he can say to his sister: that it is hard for him and Ruth to support everyone.
Dreams: Ironically, Walter Lee criticizes Beneatha for the same thing Ruth criticizes him for: having aspirations. Beneatha dreams of being a doctor one day, and her dream is actually fairly realistic, especially compared to Walter Lee’s dream of striking it rich in business. Walter Lee cannot see that helping Beneatha now will help the family in the long run because once she can practice medicine their financial burdens could be lightened substantially. Of course, Walter Lee’s pride may contribute to his blind spot; perhaps the idea of his sister becoming more successful than him is too hard for him to swallow.
Success/Values: Lena’s question reflects the division between herself and her son in terms of their values: Lena is first and foremost a Christian, and Walter Lee’s head is full of moneymaking schemes.
Success/Values: Walter Lee tries to shift blame for their poverty onto Lena in order to make her feel guilty for not supporting his proposal. He believes that the liquor store could make him rich, and that’s all that matters to him. His mother, in contrast, places morals above money, refusing to fund what she sees as an immoral business just because it could make them some money. She would prefer to be poor yet virtuous, whereas her son chooses money over virtue.
All Walter Lee can think about is the money and what he wants to do with it. He tells how Willy has filled out all the necessary paperwork for purchasing the liquor store, but Lena interrupts him, telling him he needs to talk to Ruth. Walter Lee is so self-absorbed he does not pick up on his mother’s meaning: he only wants to talk about his big plans. When Lena tries to get him to stop and listen to, he explodes, yelling that he wants someone to listen to him. Lena quietly tells him to stop yelling and that she has no intention of funding his plan for the liquor store anyway. He asks her just to look at the plans, and she says she won’t discuss it further. Walter Lee tells his mother that if she is going to be in charge of this money then she can be responsible for Travis and Ruth and the hardships they have to endure.
Walter begins to leave, and Ruth asks him where he’s going. He won’t be specific – he just wants to get out of the apartment – and Ruth says she will go with him, wanting to talk to him. He tells her he does not want her to come, even when she tells him she has got to talk to him. Lena insists Walter Lee sit down and talk to her. He and Ruth insult each other, and she runs into the bedroom, slamming the door. Lena asks Walter what is the matter with him; she says, “Something eating you up like a crazy man” (56). She says she sees him tying himself in knots about something lately, and just exploding whenever anyone tries to help. She warns her son that he may drive Ruth away.
Walter Lee is uncomfortable with what his mother is saying to him, and he tries to leave. Lena expresses her concern that he is looking for peace outside his own home, calling that kind of situation “dangerous”. He declares that he is not having an affair but that he wants to do so many things “they are driving me kind of crazy”.
Lena says she thinks Walter Lee has got a fine life, with “a job, a nice wife, a fine boy,” but Walter Lee laments the fact that his job is driving a man around all day and opening doors for him. Walter Lee calms down and tries to make Lena see what is going on inside him. He says he sees the future as “a big, looming blank space – full of nothing. Just waiting for me”.
Success/Values: Walter Lee is dissatisfied with his life. His mother thinks he has all anyone needs tobe happy, but he wants more for himself and has not been able to figure out how to get it. The idea of his life going on this way torments and oppresses him. Walter Lee goes on to talk about how he sometimes looks through restaurant windows downtown and sees “them white boys . . . sitting back and talking ’bout things . . . sitting there turning deals worth millions of dollars . . . sometimes I see guys don’t look much older than me” (58).
Walter asks George if he is not bitter too. “And you – ain’t you bitter, man? . . . Don’t you see no stars gleaming that you can’t reach out and grab? You happy? . . . Bitter? Man, I’m a volcano… Here I am a giant – surrounded by ants! Ants who can’t even understand what it is the giant is talking about”.
Walter presumes a kind of harsh camaraderie with George based on the fact that they are both African
men, and in George’s company he is unable to contain his anguish over his lot in life.
Dreams: Ruth has dreams, too, and she used to share them with Walter Lee. Those dreams are perhaps more realistic than the ones he has cooked up with Willy and Bobo, and Ruth sees practical ways of attaining them. However, she cannot seek them – or achieve them – without Walter, because he is part of them.
Dreams: Lena has made her own dream come true by buying this house, and she is trying to help Ruth and Walter realize their dreams, too, in her way. She knows Walter needs to change his life, and she offers the house as a tool for change. Lena enters, startling Ruth and Walter Lee. Walter asks where she has been, but she does not answer. Walter insists on knowing where she has been, worried that she has spent the insurance money. Travis enters, and Lena calls him to her. Suspense builds as Lena begins to explain where she has been and what she has done. Finally, she announces that she has bought a house, telling Travis that it was his grandfather who gave him the house.
Ruth is thrilled at Lena’s news, and she asks Walter to be glad, too. He remains silent. Lena describes the house, to Ruth’s great joy, and Lena turns to Walter Lee and tells him, “It makes a difference in a man when he can walk on floors that belong to him” (76). her words about pushing out and doing something bigger sound just like his words. Even though she recognizes the potential danger of moving into a white neighborhood, her desire to keep her family together overrides any apprehension she may have.
A View of Prejudice as Described in Lorraine Hansberry’s Play, A Raisin In The Sun
A Raisin in the Sun
A raisin in the sun is a play about an African American family that is going to receive an inheritance because of a death in the family. In this play their is sexism, racism, and many other cultural differences that we might not have been able to see if we were not in the minority until this play.
The African American family in this play is the Younger family there are five youngers living in one small apartment. I think the most important family member is Mama, she is the glue to the whole family and keeps everyone in line. Then there’s Walter lee Younger which is mamas son he works as a chauffeur and thinks he is head of the household. Walters wifes name is Ruth she usually minds her own business more than the rest of the family. Mama’s daughters name is Beneatha younger she is an aspiring doctor and she knows she can do it even with her being an African American woman. Then there’s the youngest which you do not really hear a lot about he is walter and ruth’s son his name is travis all he wants to do is have a real house.
A Raisin in the Sun is a play about the Younger family and it is based in the 1950s while racism and sexism were still taken very serious by many. The Youngers are about to receive an insurance check for ten-thousand dollars which was a lot back in the 1950s. they are receiving this check because Mr. Younger mama’s husband died and left them money to take care of themselves because he worked until the day he died.
Everyone in the younger family want something different out of the inheritance money. Mama wants to buy a house where her family will not have to struggle anymore. Mamas son walter wants to buy a liquor store with his friends so he can give the family everything they need. Beneatha who wants to become a doctor wants the money to go towards her schooling so she can help people and prove everyone wrong. Ruth and Travis do not really want anything specific but, everyone to be happy.
Ruth finds out that she is pregnant with walters second child which they don’t have any room for and beenie says “where is he going to sleep the roof” and ruth gets sad and almost passes out. this shows that they are all under a lot of stress and ruth feels guilty for having another baby. While mama and beenie know about the baby walter doesn’t find out until later when beenies friend from africa comes over and they go in the room. Beneatha has a friend from africa bring her things from his homeland so she feels like she is finding her true self which is saying that she doesn’t know who she really is and she is supposed to be the one with the strong mind on her shoulders.
When the inheritance arrives walter is has a nervous breakdown and leaves the house for a week or so and mama goes looking for him. mama doesn’t like seeing her son sad so she eventually ends up giving walter half the money saying to put two thousand in a bank account for bennie his younger sisters schooling and to keep the rest for himself. the money that mama gave walter never gets put into a bank account and ends up getting stolen by his friend Willy Harris.Walter never gets to accomplish his dream of having a liquor store.
Meanwhile when walter was losing over half of the inheritance money mama is buying a house that will fit their needs, is in a good neighborhood, and is in her budget. The house that she picks isn’t in an African American neighborhood and so she gets a visit from the welcoming committee. A man named Mr. Karl Linder is the welcoming committee and at first the Youngers think he is a nice man and that he wants to help but, then they find out that he only wants to pay them off to not live in the white neighborhood. the white man says that he doesn’t want to ruin the block with how much the people who live their work for what they have by “certain kind of people moving in”. This causes the Youngers to become closer and move in to the new house.
Throughout the play their are times that i wondered why would or rather how could people be so set on ruining other peoples lives. I grew up with many different raced people around me throughout my life so i will never fully understand the thought process of racist people. The Youngers seem to be portrayed as hard working people and they want whats best for their family it doesn’t make a difference what color they are i would of still watched it the same with no judgement.
Racism in the housing industry has been peppered with racism even up into modern times. The racism that is in the housing industry today are not only Towards African Americans its hispanics, whites, and any race. White people can be put out of their house by hispanics that are in gangs and even by other white people throughout the united states. But, most of the racism is pointed toward hispanics and how everyone thinks if you are colored you need to be a gang member of if you dress a certain way you are a gang member. We see it everyday on the news how police officers are even racist and arrest people for no reason. No one knows it happens in the communities also. I have seen people get shot of badly hurt by people that are supposedly protecting their community, Everyone is a victim of some kind of racism in their life even when we are younger. I do not think that people should not feel safe in their own home because of neighborhood racism. In the CBS news Ilyce Glink says “Although we’ve come a long way from blatant, in-your-face housing injustice, racial discrimination still exists,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “Just because it’s become less obvious doesn’t mean that it’s less harmful.” This statement is completely true many people die because of community racism.
Racism in A Raisin in the Sun is almost sickening to most people and i hope that more people see this play to help spread the word about how African American people were treated in the 1950s. Racism is still alive today through communities that want one color out of their neighborhood which is not right either. I hope people eventually learn how not to be racist.
Twentieth Century American Family Literature: a Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and a Raisin in the Sun
A melodrama is a film which appeals to the emotions of its audience, on a higher level than the simple “drama” genre. The characters of a melodrama are often stereotyped and exaggerated to indicate something about the culture of the times, making their traits illustrations of the writer’s thoughts on society. Both A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) and A Raisin in the Sun (1961) are family melodramas of the classical and postclassical periods, respectively. There are three main elements which were altered, or rather developed, from 1945 to 1961 which change the qualities of the melodrama genre: historical context, conventions and icons. Therefore, while the general understanding of the genre remains the same, and while the themes within the two films are very similar, the elements change according to the attitudes of the times and the development of societal issues, or indeed their progressive nature.
Before analysing and comparing the genre which links these two films, it is important to note the periods in which they were set and made, and the social constructions behind both their main themes and their characters’ actions. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was made in 1945, the year in which the Second World War ended. However, the story is set between the years of 1900 and 1918, the last four of which would have occurred during the First World War. Bordwell and Thompson highlight features characteristic of classical Hollywood cinema. These include features such as the “narrative form”, direction of “focus” on central character, “a process of change”, motivations of a psychological nature, and finally “closure” (Bordwell and Thompson, 98). A Tree Grows in Booklyn clearly demonstrates all of these characteristics, as discussed later. A Raisin in the Sun was made sixteen years after A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, in 1965, when the classical period had ended and the post classical period was coming to an end. The post-classical era began right after the Second World War and ended, in 1962. It was characterised by its experimental and transitional nature, as its position in the film-period time-line was the next step towards the Modernist Period.
The change from classical to post-classical was a result of the progression in sophistication of both “creator and consumer” (Casper, Lecture) of the film, and the technologies used to create it. According to Casper with Edwards in Introduction to Film Reader, there were various types of experimentation that occurred within this period such as using “genre as a vehicle”, “nostalgia”, “topical accommodation”, amongst others (Casper with Edwards, 308). Due to the cultural differences of the times in which these films were made, it is no surprise that the ways in which the themes of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and A Raisin in the Sun are demonstrated, and the melodrama genre which they fall into, are seemingly different. In Reality Television, Melodrama, and the Great Recession, Susan Schuyler states that “melodrama fluidly adapt to changing public tastes, borrowing tropes and techniques from diverse dramatic genres” (Schuyler, 44). The phrase “fluidly adapted” supports the idea that melodramas focus on real issues, their characters caricatures of the men and women of the time in which they are based, a method of commenting on our ever-changing society through entertainment.
The conflicts in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and A Raisin in the Sun lie in the aspirations of the main characters and money. The dreams that both Francie Nolan (Peggy Ann Garner) and Walter Lee Young (Sidney Poitier) have are simple dreams. However, the introduction of stronger narratives in the post-classical era changes the way in which the Family Melodrama genre is portrayed, as societal issues are enhanced through the presentations of the characters. Francie Nolan is a young girl who aspires to become a writer, and Walter Lee Young is a man who dreams of buying a house which he can be proud of. Both of these ambitions are relatable, and would be achievable if these two families did not live in poverty. However, the differences between the dreams can be explained by the cultural context which surrounds these two stories. Francie Nolan’s dream is one which must be achieved by hard work, and perseverance against all odds, such as her alcoholic father Johnny Nolan (James Dunn) who dies at the height of her motivation. Francie is not supported by her family until the very end of the film as her mother lies in bed and tells her that she regrets not reading her compositions: “I ain’t read any of your compositions. It’s on my conscience”, (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1945) Francie’s situation could have been applied to young people from any culture with a similar class background.
In contrast, A Raisin in the Sun pushes the boundaries of the Family Melodrama genre by providing an alternate culture to the classic Hollywood family portrayal, by using an African American family. Thompson and Chappell argue that “In culturally influenced resources, the culture is not essential to the underlying message of the movie, but it has a unique effect on the message and viewers’ responses to it… African American culture uniquely influences the messages conveyed” (Thompson and Chappell, 223). The dynamic of the dreams in A Raisin in the Sun is different to that in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn because Francie’s ambitions are more personal, while Walter struggles with his personal dreams and dreams of his family members, and the decisions which he must make for his succeeding generation. Because the Young family are African American, and are subject to prejudice and racism, the decision that Walter ultimately makes is tied in with the unity of the family against the white people who attempt to oppress them: “And we have decided to move into our house because my father – my father – he earned it for us brick by brick” (A Raisin in the Sun, 1961). In this way, the Family Melodrama genre progresses as a stronger narrative is introduced. A narrative is, according to Bordwell and Thompson, “a type of filmic organization in which the parts relate to one another through a series of causally related events taking place in time and space” (Bordwell and Thompson, G-4). A Tree Grows in Brooklyn has a clear storyline, a beginning, middle and end which all contribute to the Bildungsroman nature of its plot. However, the stronger narrative occurs in A Raisin in the Sun, as the Melodrama acquires its drama through events which are linked by the moral question of the house that Walter wants to move into. In this way, through the symbol of the house, A Raisin in the Sun comments more on society, and is less focused on the individual characters, but instead uses them as a vehicle to enhance its melodramatic qualities.
Conventional film form, techniques and patterns changed from the 1940s to the 1960s, as presented in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and A Raisin in the Sun. The classical era was one which is known for its studio system, which relied on big studios such as 20th Century Fox Studios for its shooting locations. As seen in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, the settings of the classical era Hollywood films were elaborate and costly. It is easy to see that this film was shot in a professional studio, due to the visible camera angles and lighting used in its scenes. For example, the shots of the staircase in many of the scenes would have needed mounted cameras in order to show the height of the space. This is indicative of the focus of family in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The inclusion of the different floors and levels in the house helps to capture the focus on the Nolan family as a whole. The three point lighting used creates beautiful portraits of all the characters, highlighting the importance of individual character development in the plot. In Behind the Silver Screen Series: Cinematography, Keating and Cagle argue that in the classical period, lighting was used to “primarily to suggest three-dimensionality, to differentiate stars, and to provide glamour” (Keating and Cagle, 40) Three point lighting includes back-light, fill light, and key light which shines directly on the subject – to “to achieve the desired portraiture” (Keating and Cagle, 40). The surrounding lights allowed for the visual prioritisation of the most important subjects. Keating and Cagle argue that “Paired with an encouraging director and an appropriate script, cinematographers pushed the classical envelope and experimented with convention” (Keating and Cagle, 61). This progression and experimentation was driven by economic and social change. After the economic boom which occurred after World War II in the 1940s, “1947 initiated a sharp financial decline for the motion picture industry”, and “the studios slashed their overhead” (Keating and Cagle, 60). This lack of money is evident in the way that A Raisin in the Sun was filmed. The majority of the film occurs in the small apartment of the Young family, venturing away from this location occasionally for plot-related purposes. The more simple set of this film helps the audience to focus more on the historical and social context of its story.
Without the elaborate settings, and the beautiful portraiture that is displayed in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, A Raisin in the Sun relies more heavily on the importance of the construction of society at the time in which it was set. According to Keating and Cagle, in the post-classical period, “cinematographers began to mix the visual markers of newsreel authenticity with different stylistic choices that also connoted realism, many of which deemphasized glamour”(Keating and Cagle, 65). This heightened sense of realism can be seen in A Raisin in the Sun as the simplified setting contributes to the realistic nature of the plot. It focuses on the truthful problem of racism in America in the 1950s, and the struggle of immigrants to progress in society, and their strive to challenge the seemingly insurmountable immobility of the class system. Because it does not concentrate as heavily on the development of the individual character, as done in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, A Raisin in the Sun shows the development of the family melodrama genre as it becomes a “bourgeois tragedy, dependent upon an awareness of the existence of society” (Keith Grant, 73). The conflict that the Young family faces highlights their culture being introduced into Hollywood film, and the unified response of African Americans towards feelings of white supremacy. The decision Walter has to make between pride and money, involves his entire family. The Youngs appear to be a representation, and an inspirational symbol for African American families in 1950s America as Walter chooses to stand up against social normalities and oppression. In this way, the iconography of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and A Raisin in the Sun differ in that A Raisin in the Sun strives to create icons out of its characters, for the purpose of discussing the racism aforementioned, while the symbolism in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is less obvious, as it is more standardised and can be widely understood without the need for background historical knowledge. It is, as put by Judith E. Smith, “a plotless story, in the way that life itself never seems to offer much in the standard notions of plot” (Smith, 42).
Family melodrama is an ever-evolving genre as it is subject to changes that occur within society. Therefore, the alterations to this genre are difficult to anticipate, but in the future are interesting to study with the advantage of historical hindsight. Cultural changes and societal issues manifest and present themselves in the comparison of films such as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and A Raisin in the Sun. In the words of Barry Keith Grant, “The case of melodrama is significant because of its centrality and extreme adaptability in the history of cinema” (Keith Grant, 232).