Racism in A Raisin in the Sun
A Raisin in the Sun is a play by Lorraine Hansberry that examines how racial prejudice affects an African-American family and obstructs them from fulfilling their dreams. The play centers around, The Youngers’, an African American family living in Chicago’s South Side. Essentially, the major theme which characterizes the play is the theme of racism and its impact on the multi-generational family. Notably, the impact of racism is seen not only in how whites and blacks relate but also in how blacks relate with themselves. The author uses the various characters in the play to highlight the theme of racial discrimination, seen in job discrimination and segregated neighborhoods, detailing how it affects the Younger family and the entire society at large.
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The issue of job discrimination is presented in the character of Ruth, who falls sick, yet fears contacting her employer since she feels that she will be easily replaced. Notably, this shows that she feels replaceable and is aware that her employer is not concerned about her wellbeing and thus cannot sympathize with her, citing that she will be immediately replaced. Lena suggests that Ruth should tell her employer that she is down with the flu since this is an illness that white people can also get, making it believable (Hansberry, 1984). This brings up the idea that white employers discriminated against black employees and are quick to discredit them even in instances where they are sick and cannot go to work. The author uses Ruth’s character to shed light on job discrimination and how it affects African Americans in the workplace.
The author uses the character of Mr. Lindner to reveal the theme of racial discrimination, which is seen in the segregation of neighborhoods. In the family’s quest to move into a white neighborhood, they are confronted by Mr. Lindner, who represents the governing body of the Clybourne Park neighborhood (Jose, 2014). Mr. Lindner tries to persuade the family not to make a move into the all-white neighborhood, even going as far as bribing them to ensure that they do not move there. Mr. Lindner and the entire white neighborhood do not view this family as worthy of living in a white neighborhood, which depicts racial discrimination in the United States (Napitupulu & Fang, 2022). In one scene, Mr. Lindner tells the family that for the happiness of everyone concerned, Negro families should not intermingle with White families and that each of them ought to live in their neighborhood (Hansberry, 1984). The author thus reveals the plight of many families in the United States who are not tolerated in various neighborhoods due to racism.
In sum, the author has utilized the different characters in the play to shed light on the theme of racism and its effects on the Younger family and the entire society. Frustration and exhaustion characterize the beginning of the play as each person in the Younger family struggles to live and be relevant in the racist society. The unfolding challenges that the family faces due to the difficult economic situation make it difficult for them to achieve the dreams they harbor. The segregated neighborhoods where blacks are not allowed to live with whites depict a long line of racism rooted in the past yet still ongoing in the modern day. The play sheds light on the plight of many families that are subjected to racial discrimination in the form of job discrimination and segregated neighborhoods.
- Hansberry, L. (1984). A Raisin in the Sun. Concord Theatricals.
- Jose, C. S. (2014). Racism in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. The Dawn Journal, 3(1), 876-883.
- Napitupulu, R., & Fang, T. (2022). Racism Paradox in the Play of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun”. Budapest International Research and Critics Institute (BIRCI-Journal): Humanities and Social Sciences, 5(3), 20562-20571.