Racial Tensions in "A Raisin in the Sun" by Lorraine Hansberry

Categories: A Raisin In The Sun

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry interprets a meaningful story which describes and recreates the struggles of African Americans in the 1950s. African Americans have been treated unfairly for the past several decades and their history and struggles are yet unknown to many people living today. This play indicates a sad truth on how dreams are torn apart and ridiculed due to the hardships African American’s had to face in the 1900s. The Youngers, who are showcased as the main family in the play demonstrate the hardships through the roughness of their environment, their low economic standards, and racial discrimination.

.The Youngers are an indigent African-American family who has very few choices in their white supreming society. The Youngers struggle to attain their own individual dreams throughout the play which symbolizes both their happiness and depression throughout the play. In the play, Lorraine Hansberry play uses the environment, socio-economic status and racial tensions to symbolize a family’s struggle to deal with racism and oppression in their everyday lives, as well as to exemplify their dreams.

Racial discrimination refers to discrimination against individuals on the basis of their skin color, racial or ethnic origin. Racial discrimination is one of the problems many of the characters in the book faced and it was also invoked into many of the neighbors. The Youngers paid for the down payment of a house in a white neighborhood and they immediately received criticism from one of their neighbors, Mrs.Johnson. “NEGROES INVADE CLYBOURNE PARK – BOMBED!”(Act 2, Scene 2).

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Mrs.Johnson is saying that this is what the news will be like if they move there. Mrs.Johnson is very clearly overstaying her welcome and appears to find pleasure in feeling fear in the Youngers hearts. Ruth and Mama are hurt by Mrs.Johnson’s rude remarks which are contradicting with the Youngers dreams to live in their own house. This also shows that she doesn’t want the Youngers to do better in the long run and wants them to stay captive in their prison of the black society. Mrs.Johnson doesn’t want them to pursue their dreams and end up more successful than her. She doesn’t want to be the only one fighting these battles and is dragging the Youngers down so they do not end up in a better place. Another aspect they faced racism is where it is much harder for people of color or to find jobs than regular whites. Another example of racism that is shown in the play is when Walter is talking to Mama about when he visits downtown. “sometimes when I’m downtown and I pass them cool-quiet-looking restaurants where them white boys are 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” (Act 1, Scene2). This quote is showing that Walter is getting jealous of businessman that can afford to live a luxurious lifestyle and can afford to live in a high standard. He is suffering from the fact that other men that are much younger than him have more opportunities in the world because of the color of the skin. The most racist aspects of the play are at the end of the novel. The Youngers have recently bought a house and are at the house when they receive a visit from Linder. “I want you to believe me when I tell you that race prejudice simply doesn’t enter into it. It is a matter of the people of Clybourne Park believing, rightly or wrongly, as I say, that for the happiness of all concerned that our Negro families are happier when they live in their own communities” (Act 2, Scene 3)Karl Linder tries to convince the Younger family that not moving into the new neighborhood is in their best interest. Linder starts off the conversation by trying to say he is on their side but he slowly comes to the point that he doesn’t wish for any colored people to be there. He tries to prove that all this wasn’t his idea but the idea of the community and he is just there to deliver the message. The Youngers don’t believe this and ask him to leave the house at once. The Youngers are all offended by this action and wish they were just accepted. This is a major point in the book because it shows that the Youngers faced racial discrimination and stood up for themselves.

In the 1950s, the environment was a major factor affecting how African Americans were treated. The skin color and the area they lived in depended on how they were treated. There are five members of the Younger family and the Youngers all lived in a one bedroom, one bathroom house. “At left, a door leads to a bedroom which is shared by MAMA and her daughter, Beneatha. At right, the opposite is a second room… which serves as a bedroom for Walter and his wife, Ruth” (Act 1, Scene 1, Pg 24). This shows that there was hardly any space in the house and they had Travis sleep on the living room couch. They had no choice but to live here because it was very difficult to find jobs as colored people. Money was also a major problem for the Younger family and they were each constantly trying to achieve their own dreams. When Mama received the $10,000 check she used a part of the money to put it towards a downpayment for the house. She also told Walter to save $3000 to save for Benethea and the rest Walter could use for his liquor business. Each character had different goals and they each valued the money that was given to them. “Oh—So now it’s life. Money is life. Once upon a time freedom used to be life—now it’s money. I guess the world really do change . . .”.(Act1, Scene2, page74). This quote tells us that the environment in the house was not pleasant and due to the constant fighting that is going on in the house for the money. This also impacts the character because all the characters were fighting to make their dreams come true. However, with no money, they can’t achieve what they set out to do.

Living in poverty is not a problem that many people face especially in first world countries. The Younger family has many obstacles that they have faced to move forward towards their dreams. Money is a huge problem that is facing the Younger family. The members in the house all work like labors to get enough money to sustain their family. Walter works hard as chauffeur to provide the main source of income for his family. Even though Walter doesn’t earn that much he still wants his son to feel like they are fortunate. ‘Well, I ain’t got no fifty cents this morning…I don’t care what the teacher says. I ain’t got it. Eat your breakfast, Travis'(Act 1, Scene 1). This shows that this quote that the family is poor that Ruth can’t afford her son money for the class. Travis also takes initiative towards his future by offering to carry bags at the supermarket so that he can earn the 50 cents. This level of poverty shows that they don’t have enough money to sustain their own children and they are also expecting another child on the way. Ruth is also considering aborting her child so that they could sustain their family is a better way. Education Should always be the top priority over everything. After this Walter wants to show that his son that they are fortunate so he gives him an extra 50 cents to take a taxi to school. ‘In fact, here’s another fifty cents…Buy yourself some fruit today – or take a taxicab to school or something!’ (Act 1, Scene 1). To keep the family’s economic status intact Walter gives him extra money but later doesn’t have money for himself to get to work. This shows that the Walter family is not financially stable and are just living paycheck to paycheck.

Throughout the whole play, you can see that each character is fighting for their own vision of the American Dream. This shows great hope which factors into the ability to achieve. All of them are all working hard towards all struggles to help them achieve their own dreams. They face problems such as racial discrimination, socio-economic issues, and environmental conditions. This play indicates a sad truth on how dreams are torn apart and the extreme hardships African-American people. They did not receive enough money to sustain themselves and they were viewed as minors by the whites. Imagine we were living in a world where we didn’t have enough money and we were outcasts of society.

Notes

The play tells the story of a lower-class black family’s struggle to gain acceptance in society

When the play opens, Mama is a sixty-year-old mother and head on the family

Mama is waiting for $10,000 insurance check from the recent death of her husband.

The son Walter Lee Younger, is in a desperate struggle to take his family out of the small apartment they live in.

Walter wants to use the money for an investment in the liquor business

One of Walter Lee’s business partners, and runs off with the money

The Youngers are about to receive money to not move into the house but decided not to accept the money and move into the house

Environmental

The house that they live in is really small and it sets the environment that they are not that wealthy

The have to share rooms since it is only a one bedroom, one bathroom apartment.

Their son travis is forced to sleep on the couch due to lack of space

There is also a lot of fighting regarding the check that is coming ion

Everyone has their own views on how the check should be used and they are all mostly thinking about themselves

Mama uses the money as a downpayment of a house sop that they could have a better place to live in.

“At left, a door leads to a bedroom which is shared by MAMA and her daughter, Beneatha. At right, the opposite is a second room… which serves as a bedroom for Walter and his wife, Ruth” (Act 1, Scene 1, Pg 24).

“Oh—So now it’s life. Money is life. Once upon a time freedom used to be life—now it’s money. I guess the world really do change . . .”.(Act1, Scene2, page74)

Racism

One of the biggest turning points in the play was when lidsey comes to tell them that they would be getting money to not move into the neighbourhood.

Walter is jealous that people are earning more than him just because they are white

Mrs johnson doesn’t want the youngsters to get ahead in life and is jealous of them

“NEGROES INVADE CLYBOURNE PARK – BOMBED!”(Act 2, Scene 2).

“I want you to believe me when I tell you that race prejudice simply doesn’t enter into it. It is a matter of the people of Clybourne Park believing, rightly or wrongly, as I say, that for the happiness of all concerned that our Negro families are happier when they live in their own communities” (Act 2, Scene 3)

“sometimes when I’m downtown and I pass them cool-quiet-looking restaurants where them white boys are 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” (Act 1, Scene2)

Socio-economic

Ruth doesn’t have enough money to give to travis for his school work

Walter doesn’t want his son to feel left out and wants to provide for his son so he gives hios $1

Ironic because now he doesn’t have money to get to work.

‘Well, I ain’t got no fifty cents this morning…I don’t care what the teacher says. I ain’t got it. Eat your breakfast, Travis'(Act 1, Scene 1)

‘In fact, here’s another fifty cents…Buy yourself some fruit today – or take a taxicab to school or something!’ (Act 1, Scene 1)

Environmental: apartment, how they live, pregannt example ruth gettings an abortion just to sustain the family

Racism: gettings them kicked out of the house, hard to find jobs, mrs johnson was hella racist

Socio-economic: the family is struggling with economic issues, each have their own value of the american dream

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Racial Tensions in "A Raisin in the Sun" by Lorraine Hansberry. (2021, Feb 18). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/racial-tensions-in-a-raisin-in-the-sun-by-lorraine-hansberry-essay

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