This study will examine racial conflict as it is portrayed by Lorraine Hansberry in three plays, A Raisin in the Sun, What Use Are Flowers? and The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window. As an intelligent black woman and artist born in 1930 and dying in 1965, Hansberry is clearly aware of the significance of racism in the United States, and she includes racial bigotry and stereotyping as important elements of each of these three plays, either directly or indirectly.
However, Hansberry is an optimist, not a revolutionary. Her work leans toward the reassuring rather than the disturbing. Her characters, for the most part, live in a world which still contains the salvation and healing that love and personal development can bring, even in the face of racial and other obstacles.
This is not to say that there is not an edge to her plays, a sense of anger and warning, for there certainly is. Hansberry in A Raisin in the Sun, for example, clearly means to give the message that the racial injustices heaped on blacks will result in increased social turbulence if those injustices are not addressed and corrected.
However, in no way can Hansberry be considered a radical in her artistic, economic, political or social expression. She believes in the American Dream, both its promise and its potentially corrupting influence. Her plays are a plea to whites to be more just and to blacks to be more courageous in pursuing goals worthy of their good and strong spirits. She sees not only the racism of whites against blacks, but also the racism that blacks heap upon themselves. She is especially troubled by the way too many blacks give up the struggle and accept the lies whites have told them about themselves.
It is also important to note that Hansberry does not only deal with racial issues in these plays. She also clearly understands that there are other issues which are rooted in the same sort of injustices, inequities and abuses of power which...