Friday, October 28, 2011

Response to A Raisin in the Sun

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English 0G

July 11, 00

Response Paper II, Drama

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Response to A Raisin in the Sun, Act II, Scene III

While reading Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, I could see a definite theme of social oppression and injustice. There were underlying, subtle references to slavery throughout the whole play. I think it was really brought into view in Act II, Scene III, when Mr. Lindner comes to call, in a seemingly innocent, welcoming visit, to the new community they were about to move into. He patronizingly speaks to the family, as though they were beneath the understanding of his kind, when he says, “…there’s always somebody who is out to take advantage of people who don’t always understand.”(1404) That would probably be him.

I believe he is implying that, because they are Negroes, and apparently not as bright as he and his fellow whites, they could not possibly comprehend the meaning of all that is going on. He is there to inform them of the rules they have to live by in the white community. He constantly refers to them as “you people”, but when he speaks of the neighborhood of whites, he calls them “our people” and “our community”. (1404) When he says, “our Negro families are happier when they live in their own communities”(1404), I strongly got the feeling that “our” meant, in some way, that he was inadvertently implying ownership of these people, as in slaves, and that they should be kept to living with their own kind; not to mix with their betters. Rather like the slave boss, whose job was to keep them in their place.

Beneatha brings in religion when Mr. Lindner offers the family, “a very generous offer…” for their home. Beneatha says, “Thirty pieces and not a coin less!” (1405) Religion is one of the mediating structures that keep most African-American families together in hard times, and although she seems to denounce it in Act I, I believe she still strongly believes that God is a driving factor in their lives.

Mama also makes a subtle, and rather funny, reference to slavery in Act III, when she tells the moving man that her chair, “ain’t no bale of cotton…”(141) Also in this part of the play, she has decided that Walter has become man enough to head the household. In African societies, this had to be proven by rites of passage. In her eyes, he has finally proven himself to be worthy of this honor. He can finally take his place.

Off the record

I must say that I really related to this play, in a big, sympathetic way. I grew up in the South during the 50’s and 60’s. I came from a family that treated everyone the same; no matter what color their skin or religious beliefs. We were rather odd, I guess. I was totally appalled by the treatment of the black people then. I came from a middle-class family, and I had friends that were “Negroes”. My parents didn’t care, because they also had friends of every color. I went to many places that “Negroes” were not allowed to be in. It did then, and it does now, disgust me. They were not allowed to look at or speak to me, in public, because I was a young, white girl. They could be hurt because of it. They could not go into the same bathroom or drink from the same fountain. They could not attend my schools. I have seen crosses burned in friend’s yards and bricks thrown through their windows. I was young and didn’t understand that there is supposed to be a difference. Thank goodness, I still don’t see it.

I also think that Beneatha is a terrible name for anyone, especially for a black girl. To me, it implies that she is not above anything or anyone.

Works cited Our text

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