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A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

Lorraine Hansberry’s play, “A Raisin in the Sun” is a realistic drama pivoting around a black, American family’s economic and social struggle against the prejudice that occurs in Chicago during the nineteen fifties. The Youngers’ colorful personalities cause much confrontation and anguish in their small, stifling apartment. In his essay, “A Raisin in the Sun Revisited,” J. Charles Washington, suggests that “our literary judgments, to a large extent, are determined by our own moral standards, by our adherence to the rules society deems appropriate. Generally, these standards differ according to the sex of the individual: A good man, for instance, is strong, aggressive---masculine---, whereas a good woman is sweet, gentle---feminine.” While some of Hansberry’s characters conform to these social criterions, she also strongly challenges the measures by introducing a variety of eclectic personalities.

Beneatha Younger’s love interests, George and Asagai, are prime examples of Hansberry’s reformation of the stereotypical social norms. According to the common standards, George Murchinson should technically be considered Washington’s “good man.” He is proud, tough, and fierce, thus an obvious candidate for affection and approbation from Beneatha and the Younger family. Instead, he is depicted as “shallow” and selfish (I: i, 32). The young man only cares about his reputation and honor, and does not respect those that he believes are of a lower status than him. For example, during an exchange with Walter, George looks “up at him with distaste, a little above it all,” displaying his delusional superiority (II: i, 69). This abominable demeanor creates a negative ambiance instead of that of a “good man.” On the contrary, Joseph Asagai’s kin...

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...o be perceived as a contemptible man, his later determination deems him worthy of a positive portrayal.

In conclusion, whereas some of the personalities in “A Raisin in the Sun” are in agreement with J. Charles Washington’s definition of a “good man” and “good woman,” Hansberry also encounters it by incorporating a diversity of characters. George, Asagai, and Beneatha challenge the traditional criterions through their paradoxical natures and depictions, while Ruth complies with the society deemed guidelines. Walter’s peculiar combination of opposite portrayals also disputes the legitimacy of the orthodox classifications. Lorraine Hansberry creates a framework for understanding the various forms of good men and women by introducing them throughout “A Raisin in the Sun.”

Works Cited

Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. New York: Random House, 1995. Print.
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