An Understanding of Assimilation and Segregation in “A Raisin in the Sun”

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A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry discusses segregation and discrimination that held relevance for the citizens of America in the 1950s. The citizens made an implication that those who are African American think that society only responds positively to the actions of the White Americans. This lead to African Americans culturally assimilating; conforming and giving society what the majority or privileged want by changing their style of speech and appearance, while some would try to maintain their connection to their history. Thus in Act II, Scene I of A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry interprets the concept of cultural assimilation through George’s actions as he arrives and unintentionally interrupts Beneatha and Walter’s “African” performance. This scene signifies the struggle between trying to assimilate into white culture and keeping the African heritage alive which shows that segregation exists not just between African Americans and Whites but also between African Americans.

During the 1950s, being an African American meant that you were not up to par with White Americans which shows the rejection of African Americans by society. In order to find approval, blacks would begin to alter themselves to fit in with what the white society deems acceptable. This concept is better understood in Act II, Scene I of A Raisin in the Sun where Walter and Beneatha are dancing to an African song which later gets interrupted by George’s entrance. After the interruption, Beneatha reveals that she has cut her hair and this sparks an argument with George. During the argument, Beneatha calls George an “assimilationist”, he then responds with an angry tone and ends his monologue with “Let’s face it, baby, your heritage is nothing but...

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...ance of acceptance. It also contributes to the structure of the play due to the way it follows the line of discrimination and disrespect which foreshadows the rest of the play. The scene mentions a character that is an assimilationist and is then challenged by Beneatha when she refers to him as an uncle tom simply since he does not care about his African heritage. It also contributes to the overall theme of racial discrimination of how throughout the play the Younger family faces multiple issues dealing with race. The scene contributes to that because Beneatha believes that George would rather “act” like a white person than stay true to his roots. Thus the scene reveals that their relation mirrors and represents the way most African Americans have an internal and external segregation between each other due to differing perspectives that are influenced by society.

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