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The Novel “A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry Research Paper

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Updated: Apr 9th, 2021

Introduction

One of the most touching and picturesque novels of the contemporary world, the novel A Raisin in the Sun by Lorianne Hansburry is truly a pearl. Depicting the problems of a most usual black family living in a most usual place, the writer suggests taking a different look at the mundane parts of our lives, and on the way, people build their relationships. Getting to know the family of Youngers, the reader soon realizes how deep the problems of racial segregation can cut and how painful these wounds can be, especially for a ten-year-old boy like Travis, the younger of the Youngers. Thus, as the book unfolds the secrets of its plot in front of the reader, it becomes obvious that living in a new desegregated community, the Youngers family could help Travis shape a better idea of the world he lives in.

Facing the Problems of an Adult Life

Taking a closer look at the way the Youngers family lives, one can see the writer’s concern for the Black American society and the relationships within the Afro-Americans as well as the relations between the latter and the rest of the USA population. Though it is clear that the conflict has been brewing rather long and it was finally to burst out in a novel that would stir the society, the viewpoint of Hansburry was rather unexpected. As the author viewed the problem with the eyes of a ten-year-old boy, it obtained a different shape and appeared to be much more threatening than one could imagine.

Thus, one of the problems of the adult world which Travis is supposed to face is the issue of segregation. Despite his young age, he is threatened by the cruel world, regardless of his weakness. However, can the boy be considered weak? Living in such an environment and being able to survive already means that one has enough strength to oppose the unjust world. Anyway, the young offspring of the Youngers family needs help, which is evident. This grows even more important as the boy starts realizing what is going on around him. To understand the terrible environment which the boy is suffering from, it would be enough to drive his father’s words:

Mama – sometimes when I’m downtown and I pass them cool-quiet-looking restaurants where them little boys are stung back and talking ’bout things… sitting there turning deals worth millions of dollars… sometimes I see guys don’t look much older than me (74).

Though Walter can be described as a good-for-nothing money spender, what he says still impresses greatly. Indeed, the attitude towards the less successful population often leaves much to be desired, yet Walter gets a treatment which is even worse – what he receives is almost despise.

Unlike his father, Travis sits ring to find a way out, yet his boyish attempts will not drive to any result until his family tries to overcome the segregation which they encounter – which is absolutely impossible, regarding the strained relationships within the family.

How Can One Handle This?

Despite the negligence which the boy gets, he still believes in the world and in the people around him – perhaps, the situation might change once the family could live in a friendlier environment where they would not have to face the problems of segregation. It seems that when placed in a world where there would be no racial segregation and people would not try to humiliate the boy and his family, he could change his idea of the world and the people around him. It is the violent attitude of the strangers who sniff at people “like the Youngers” that makes the boy feel neglected and ashamed. Therefore, once adapting to the situation where the boy will not have to fear anymore, Travis can shape his idea of life and understand that Erath is a much more peaceful and friendly place. However, much time must pass before society changes for the better, which means that the Youngers family has a long way to go before peace is restored among its members. Indeed, there is very little that the prosperous layer of the society knows about those in need – not for money, but for compassion – and very few people who are ready to learn these things. As Carter put it,

[…] to understand the trumpets and the love-fire of our experience, to understand how we got over and what we must do to overcome, we must forget everything we think we know about Black women and Black men and go back to the rich soil of our tradition and dig there for spreading roots of love that slavery and segregation could not kill (Carter 25)

Indeed, with their conscience cluttered with false ideas of what the Black community is and the life it leads, people have to take great pains to understand the true nature of the Black. However, people are rarely inclined to understand and fight the woes of others. Thus, the only way out for the Youngers family is to move to another place – another city, country, or world – to be treated like decent people. It is only there where little Travis will be able to feel more or less protected and obtain a different vision of the world, seeing that people can be friendly and trustworthy.

Another idea which Hansberry raises is the reasonability of the changes that little Travis is so eager to change. Opposing the conservative ideas which were so common among the Black population then, Hansberry makes it clear that one of the obstacles on the way to freedom is the segregated people themselves. Fearing the changes, thinking it wiser to wait for the better future to come someday, these people add to the despair which grips the little boy as he understands that the adults do not want to do anything to improve the situation either:

Something has changed. You something new, boy. In my time we were worried about not being lynched and getting to the North if we could and how to stay alive and still have a pinch of dignity too… (Hansberry 74)

Conclusion

Despite the despair which gripped Travis already, there is still something that can be done. Placed in a world where there would be no segregation together with his family, the boy can keep his cheerfulness and his faith in people. Since the boy’s personality is only shaping, there is still something that can be done to help him grow into a confident, cheerful adult who is not afraid of the world and the people around him. However, to make this possible, the family has a lot to do, and the first thing on their list would be the change of the relationships within the family. Only when the family realizes what ties them together, they will be able to create a world of their own which no one will be able to harm.

Works Cited

Carter, Steven R. Hansberry’s Drama: Commitment and Complexity. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1991. Print.

Hansberry, Lorianne. A Raisin in the Sun. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1994. Print.

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