A Raisin in the Sun Essays

A Raisin in the Sun Essays

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In 1959, American Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev came together at the American National Exhibition in Moscow, a “showcase of American consumer goods” (May 18), for “one of the most noted verbal sparring matches of the century,” aptly coined the “kitchen debate” (16). As Khrushchev applauded the Communist system and its hardworking women, Nixon “extolled the virtues of the American way of life” (16), emphasizing America’s “successful breadwinners supporting attractive homemakers in affluent suburban homes” (18). Although Nixon’s emphasis upon the suburban lifestyle may have successfully displayed America’s superiority in consumer goods, Nixon grossly “exaggerated the availability of the suburban home” (20). For many black Americans, despite postwar socioeconomic gains, the domestic suburban dream was difficult, if not impossible, to obtain because “race made them outcasts in the suburban housing market” (Wiese 99). If the model American home represented the “essence of American freedom,” clearly it was a freedom withheld from a significant portion of America’s population (May 16).

While Nixon articulated the “widely shared belief” that suburbia “offered a piece of the American dream for everyone,” in New York, Lorraine Hansberry’s play, A Raisin in the Sun, offered a very different perspective (20). Set in post World War II Southside Chicago, Hansberry’s drama explores the conflict that arises within an African American family when Mama, the family's matriarch, receives a $10,000 life insurance settlement and spends a portion of it to buy a home in the restricted white neighborhood of Clybourne Park. However, Hansberry’s play not only highlighted the issue of housing segregation, but also fores...


... middle of paper ...


...oviding a subtle clue that this dialogue is also a message from the playwright for her African American audience.


Works Cited

Carter, Steven R. “Hansberry, Lorraine Vivian.” American National Biography Online. 2000.
Oxford UP. Feb 2000. Web. 30 Sep 2011.
Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. New York: Vintage Books, 1994. Print.
May, Elaine Tyler. “Containment at Home: Cold War, Warm Hearth.” Homeward Bound:
American Families in the Cold War Era. By May. New York: BasicBooks, 1988. 16-36.
Print.
Nemiroff, Robert. Introduction. A Raisin in the Sun. By Lorraine Hansberry. New York: Vintage
Books, 1994. 5-14. Print.
Wiese, Andrew. “‘The House I Live In’: Race, Class, and African American Suburban Dreams
in the Postwar United States.” Ed. Kevin M. Kruse and Thomas J. Sugrue. The New
Suburban History. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2006. 99-119. Print.

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