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A Raisin in the Sun
November 25, 1998
Throughout the course of time the many generations of people who have lived in this world have fought to find themselves. A common phrase used by people when ask why they did something or why they went somewhere is, I did it to find myself, to find out who I am. The theme of identity is seen by the reader in Lorraine Hansberry's play A Raisin in the Sun.
In the play Walter Lee Younger is just an example of the fight black people had to go through to find their identity in the 1950's. The readers see Mr. Younger as a below average working class American man who is unhappy with his life. He is black, so the struggles that Walter Lee faces are many more than a white man in his same position. Walter Lee considers himself as a man with dreams, a man with a vision. Walter has a child, Travis and a wife Ruth, and he wants to be able to follow these dreams that he has. He wants to be able to act on them to provide a better life for his family and himself. Walter is seen here as very ambitious and impulsive. He is also a very frustrated man. This is displayed by Walter as he fights with Ruth about supporting him. Mr. Younger has gotten the impression that his family does not believe in him. Walter feels like a nobody. The reader sees this when he says this to Ruth. "That is just what is wrong with colored women in this world ... Don't understand about building their men up and making them feel like they somebody. Like they can do something"(Hansberry 1388). Here the reader sees all of the anger that Walter has built up over the years start to be released. Walter is showing that he is unhappy with whom he is or has become. This is where searching for identity plays a part in Walter Lee Youngers' life. The idea that he wants to open a liquor store is a good indication of Walter fighting to find himself. Hansberrry gives the reader the idea that Walter Lee just does not want to open the store to make money and give his family a better life, although that is one of the main reasons, but that he also wants to open it to show himself and everyone else that just because he is black and poor that he cannot achieve his goals too. Walter has plans to use the store for the purpose of achieving his happiness. It was once said that true happiness is a measure of oneself. For Walter happiness will be achieved in knowing whom he is and having what he wants.
Another good example of someone trying to find their identity in the play would be Beneatha. Being a young black woman in the 50's her future is much brighter than the black women who have come before her. She is young and full of ideas of what she would like to be and where she would like to go. Although Beneatha's attitude is different then her brothers, it is somewhat the same. She too is struggling to find herself, to find where she fits in the puzzle called life. Hansberry shows the reader an example of this with Beneatha going to college to become a doctor. Back in the 1950's when this play was written, it was not common practice, a black girl becoming a doctor. Although Beneatha knows this, her going to school to be a doctor is a way for her to express herself. The reader is shown that expression and expressing oneself is very important to Beneatha. It is shown in her conversation with Mama and Ruth. Beneatha say, ". . . I experiment with different forms of expression"(Hansberry 1394). When ask what it is that she wants to express Beneatha replies angrily, "Me!"(1395). This is all part of Beneatha's ongoing battle to find her own identity. Some other examples would be Beneatha not just wanting to marry some rich man, but to make a life for herself. Also of how she is interested in the culture and traditions of her friend
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