Racial Identity in A Raisin in the Sun: Who Am I?

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Growing up as a child during the 1970s in a predominantly African American neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles, the differences between me and my playmates never occurred to me. Although my mother and I eventually moved to the suburbs, my father remained there well into my adulthood. However, it was not until late childhood, while visiting my father on weekends, that I started to differentiate between my friends and myself, and my father’s home and my home. The realization I was different may have come about because of the piercing stares and turned heads at the neighborhood market. Or perhaps it was the racial epithets exchanged in anger between childhood friends. However, the image indelibly etched in my memory is that…show more content…
When this fails to have the desired effect, Lindner explains that his “association is prepared, through the collective effort of our people, to buy the house” from the Younger family (118). Beneatha, Mama’s adult daughter, sarcastically remarks, “Thirty pieces and not a coin less,” alluding to the Biblical account of Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. In effect, Beneatha’s sarcastic remark clarifies to Lindner that the Youngers are not for sale. Considering the historical context, Hansberry’s personal experience, and Mr. Lindner’s visit, it would seem that the predominant conflict Ms. Hansberry sought to emphasize was the external one between the oppressed and the oppressor. While this interpretation provides some understanding of the play, it is merely a superficial observation. However, a close reading of the text reveals that the paramount struggle exemplified throughout Raisin is internal, rather than external. In other words, do you allow others to define you or do you define yourself? Society regards Mama’s external appearance as defining who she is, but Mama values internal character. Near the end of the play when Walter, Mama’s adult son, telephones Lindner with the intent to accept his offer to buy the house, Mama asks him, “Baby, how you going to feel on the inside?”
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