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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 Frederick
 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 of
 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 with
 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 the
 way Lorraine lived. The four characters Lena, Ruth, Beneatha,
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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