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Lorraine Hansberry's play A Raisin in the Sun

Lorraine Hansberry's play A Raisin in the Sun was an important work as the first truly successful play by a black playwright, so much so that it has come to be viewed by many as the key portrait of black American life in the theater. This is unfortunate because Hansberry's characters represent only one aspect of black life, and a somewhat idealized representation at that. The play does say important things for the history of black American theater, and elements in the play do serve to show aspects of the black experience. Still, the black experience is much broader than this play, which is why white audiences should not view it as definitive. What Hansberry writes is clearly derived from her own experience, and in this sense it is urged out of her blood. The family she writes about exists in a specific time period--the 1950s--and a specific milieu--the south side of Chicago in that time period. The Younger family is on the verge of escaping from the ghetto, with each family member having his or her own dream. This dream begins with the desire to achieve the American dream, though by the end of the play the seamy reality of that dream has been exposed and the family has shifted to a celebration of its own value system rather than aspiring to emulate white society. Indeed, the one thing that is generally missing from Hansberry's play except in the most controlled and acceptable quantities is anger. Hansberry finds disillusionment, and through this she finds a new hope in a revival of the black family.

The kind of experience the Youngers have leads them to a spiritual and familial regeneration, transcending their ghetto not by moving to the suburbs but by understanding themselves and their place in black society. This prevailing racism has left the Youngers with a feeling of inferiority they try to overcome. The anger that such treatment creates is subdued in this family. The one vital element in the Younger family that s...

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Lorraine Hansberry's play A Raisin in the Sun. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:16, August 06, 2020, from