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A Raisin in the Sun: An Exploration of Allusions

A Prezi About Allusions in A Raisin in the Sun

Trenton Daley

on 7 May 2014

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Transcript of A Raisin in the Sun: An Exploration of Allusions

A Raisin in the Sun: An Exploration of Allusions
Table of Contents
Background Information
Research Questions
Allusions to The Bible
Allusions to African Culture
Allusions to History and Mythology
Other Allusions
Analysis and Conclusions
Group Members
Jeffrey Guadron (Biblical Allusions)
Trenton Daley (Historical and Mythological Allusions)
Miguel Garcia-Quintero (Allusions to African Culture)
Carson Mleynek (Other Allusions)
Allusions in
A Raisin in the Sun
What Made Lorraine Hansberry Tick?
The Research Questions:
1. Discuss the importance of allusions in
A Raisin in the Sun
2. How do allusions help develop the characters?
3. How are allusions used?
4. Why are so many of them biblical in nature?
But before those may be answered, we have a few questions of our own...
What was America like during the nineteen sixties and fifties?
Religious Demographics: 70% of Americans said that religion played in important role in their lives.

African-Americans were seen as below whites. Women were seen as less capable than men.

The Civil-Rights movement: During the nineteen sixties and fifties, African-Americans sought to abolish racial segregation laws. Some fought, some staged peaceful protests, and some expressed their ideas through literature. Two examples are Langston Hughes and Lorraine Hansberry.

Why Are So Many Allusions Biblical in Nature?
How Do Allusions Develop the Characters?
How Are the Allusions Used?
Before we discuss the importance of allusions, lets look at some examples...
Discuss the importance of allusions
Biblical Allusions
Explanation of Biblical Allusions
Allusions to African Culture
Explanation of Allusions to African culture
Historical and Mythological Allusions
Explanation of Historical and Mythological Allusions
Other Allusions
Explanation of other Allusions
Works Cited






Lecture notes Ms. Wildman gave us.

Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. : Vintage Books, 1959. Print.

The Holy Bible King James Version
Another Presentation Brought to You By:
Lorraine Hansberry was African-American, a female, a lesbian, and an atheist. During her time atheism and lesbianism were considered controversial and she experienced much conflict.
Unlike many African-American females during her time, she was well off and had the opportunity to receive a good education and use her intelligence to her benefit.
As Hansberry said in an unaired interview, she connects to the character of Beneatha because they are both "African-American female intellectuals." Due to the segregation of African-Americans and the marginalizing of women, African-American women had few opportunities to be successful. Hansberry uses Beneatha to show that it is possible for them to do so.
There are many connections between Beneatha and Hansberry. Beneatha's views are based off of Hansberry's. Both aren't afraid to give their opinion, even when they have to argue with others. Beneatha represents how Hansberry wasn't afraid to write a controversial play in order to influence people and change racial tensions.
Allusions are references to outside information used to make comparisons. They usually add drama, irony, or imagery to a work.

Allusions help cast a light on a situation which is shaded by the subject alluded to.

A Raisin In The Sun
, most of the allusions are biblical since Mama is highly religious. There are allusions to history, African culture, the Bible, and other topics as well. These help make points about major themes as well as develop the characters for an in depth analysis.
The Younger family is portrayed as a normal African-American family. They consider the religious implications of their actions and use famous biblical quotes.

As seventy percent of Americans during the nineteen sixties and fifties said that religion played a large role in their lives, they would have been able to connect to religious quotes.

Despite being an atheist, Hansberry appeals to the consciences of Christians in her use of bible quotes. She is attempting to communicate with the audience using their own logic.

The use of biblical quotes shows the Younger family as just. This helps Hansberry portray a black family fighting against their segregation as holy and strengthens feelings of going against segregation.

Hansberry uses Beneatha to show her ideas about Christianity.
The allusions help develop the characters in two different ways:
The allusions which the characters use develop their intelligence and personality.
The allusions which are directed towards a character develop their attributes and the way other characters view them.
The characters themselves are also allusions to Hansberry's life. They are developed by who or what they are referencing in real life.
Many of Hansberry's allusions are to the world around her. She wished to represent her views of the world in order to change it.

Allusions help connect to the audience. As many are religious and relate to the culture of the nineteen fifties and sixties, the audience of that time would be able to relate to them.
A Raisin in the Sun
is culturally relevant and unique in its views.

Allusions are used quickly in
A Raisin in the Sun
. A comparison is made to convey a meaning to the audience and is soon moved on from. This helps further the plot of the play. Rather than spending a large amount of time focusing on deeper meaning as in a book, Hansberry allows the audience to make their own inferences and move on.
1. "Goodnight, Prometheus!" -George (Hansberry 86)
2. "Set off another bomb yesterday." -Walter (Hansberry 26)
3. "I'm afraid they need more salvation from the British and the French." -Beneatha (Hansberry 57)
4. "Those who see changes-who dream...are called idealists...those who see only the circle we call
the "'realists!'" -Asagai (Hansberry 134)
5. "Three hundred years later the African prince rose up out of the seas and swept the maiden back across the middle passage over which her ancestors had come." -Asagai (Hansberry 137)
1. Prometheus was a Titan who stole fire from the Greek Gods in order to give it to humans. He was seen as a benefactor by the humans but was punished by the Gods. By George calling Walter Prometheus, he is saying that Walter is attempting to steal fire from White people and deliver the chance at having dreams to African Americans. Additionally, George is mocking Walter, as he knows Walter will not know the allusion because he does not have a high level of education.
2. The bombs that Walter mentions allude to WWII, the cold war and the dropping of atomic bombs; during the time period of
A Raisin In The Sun
many conflicts were occurring across the world. The fact that the Youngers are focusing all their attention on other things while war is going on helps make their ideas look important; during times of war African-Americans still fought for desegregation, and Hansberry wishes to show that. Furthermore, the fact that Ruth is more interested in making him eggs then this news shows that their marriage is in conflict: All she can focus on is how they aren't doing well.
3. This refers to colonization of Africa by the British and French. He is saying that this problem should be fixed before Americans try to convert Africans to Christianity. This shows how many African-Americans knew little about their heritage and so were unable to be proud of it. Hansberry wants them to be proud and rise against segregation.
4. This refers to the two schools of thought called idealism and realism. Asagai is an idealist because he believes not in what is for sure, but for what can be. He represents how African-Americans need to keep hope-although they have been treated poorly for so long they can improve their conditions.
5. This refers to the slave trade, which proliferated during the 1700's. Asagai is saying that he is going to go the opposite direction of the trade and bring Beneatha home to Africa. Hansberry wishes for African-Americans to return to their roots in order to better their lives and learn about themselves.
Allusions in
A Raisin in the Sun
are often used to put a situation into the context of something famous. This helps explain and portray an event from the play in a way that connects to yet was not previously obvious to the audience.

Many allusions are to the world that Hansberry lived in. She wished to represent her world and her views with the problems within it. This serves to make the audience aware of issues and inspire them to take action.

Allusions which talk about modern culture also serve to reflect what is going on around her. She is trying to make connections to the world in order to make connections to the audience and real problems.

Biblical and cultural allusions would have been familiar to both white and black groups. Connections are made both to the audience and within the audience's minds. This makes for an interesting and engaging play which would help the audience remember Hansberry's themes.

Hansberry wished to educate white audiences and inspire African audiences with her play. Her portrayal of the evolution of a typical African-American family into a proud anti segregationist family helps illustrate the struggles of African-Americans to whites and show African-American families that they can rise above segregation.
1. "Well-if the salt looses it's savor" - Beneatha (46 Hansberry)
2. "And then there are all those prophets who would lead us out of the wilderness - into the swamps!" - Beneatha (38 Hansbery)
3. "Thirty pieces and not a coin less!" - Beneatha (118 Hansberry)
4. "George Murchison! I wouldn't marry him if he was Adam and I was Eve" - Beneatha (150 Hansberry)
5. Turn the other cheek (Implied when Walter is discussing about Willy Harris)
1. "When the salt loses its savor" is an allusion made by Beneatha. She obtains the meaning of this text from Isaiah 40:3. This signifies what Ruth thinks of Beneatha as an intellectual since she believes that Beneatha is "as fresh as salt."
2. "And then there are all those prophets who would lead us out of the wilderness - into the swamps!" is stated by Beneatha in response to Walter's dream. This allusion relates to Beneatha's beliefs in Walter's plans for the family. The allusion is found in Mathew 5:3 and it demonstrates that one may try to find a good solution but it can turn out into something non-beneficial. Walter would be the one who would attempt to find a good solution for the family by investing in a liquor store but the family realizes that this solution would leave them in a worse situation than they are already in.
3. "30 pieces and not a coin less!" is another expression Beneatha uses when Carl Lindner is around discussing with Walter about buying the house. The quote, found in Mathew 26:15, explains how Judas sold Jesus as a slave and betrayed him for money. This would relate to how Walter has the choice to sell the house, which would be betraying his family, or not accepting the offer, which would be his moment of moral reconciliation.
4. Found in Genesis 2:7, and 2:21, Beneatha uses this remark to demonstrate what she thinks about her relationship with George Murchison. This allusion tells about the creation of man and woman and how God created Adam and Eve. Since they where the only pair on Earth, they would be expected to be a great couple and have a family for the sake of true love. In Beneatha's case, Beneatha is so disgusted by George Murchison's assimilationism that she would not even accept him as her lover, even if they where "Adam and Eve."
5. "Turn the other cheek," found in Mathew 5:38-59, demonstrates Jesus' teachings that we should always forgive our enemies even if they have wronged us. This allusion is unique since it's directed towards Walter. Walter has to learn how to forgive and forget about Willy Harris stealing and move on to bigger and better things. His forgiveness would lead to him making the right moral decisions about his families money in the future.
A Raisin in the Sun
(the title of the book)

2."I think it's so sad the way our American Negroes don't know nothing about Africa 'cept Tarzan and all that" -Mama (Hansberry)
3. Mrs. Miniver
4. Scarlett O’Hara
5. He's got a conked head

A Raisin in the Sun
alludes to the poem "A Dream Deferred." In the poem, the author is asking what happens to a dream when it is abandoned.
A Raisin in the Sun
is one explanation of what happens to a "dream deferred."
2. Mama states that it is sad that African-Americans don't know about their own culture, because their culture is their origin. When you don't know about your family history, it makes one's life meaningless.
3. When Mama's family calls her Mrs. Miniver, they are alluding to the 1940's movie "Mrs. Miniver." In the movie, despite the blitz bombs of Nazi Germany, Mrs. Miniver stands stalwart, the symbol of England's hope and strength. Mama's housewarming gift is a set of gardening tools, and the card that came with it reads, "To our own Mrs. Miniver." Mama's strength and her survival in a nation divided by racial struggle makes her an appropriate parallel to Mrs. Miniver.
4. Scarlett O'hara is another movie reference. Beneatha laughs and says that their intention in giving the gardening tools was to make Mama look like Mrs. Miniver, while Travis' gift makes Mama look more like Scarlett O' Hara. This is ironic because Scarlett O' Hara was white and the Youngers are trying not to assimilate.
5. A "conked head" refers to a hairstyle adopted by some black men during the forties and early fifties. Walter describes The Green Hat performer as having this hair style. Entertainers that have this hairstyle are usually very popular, such as Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry. The Green Hat is a black group, so comparing them to great singers shows that black people can accomplish their dreams.
1. "OCOMOGOSIAY!"- (78 Hansberry)

2. " I'm afraid they need more salvation from the British and the French."- (57 Hansberry)

3. "You are looking at what a well dressed Nigerian woman wears"- (76 Hansberry)

4. "In my village at home it is the exceptional man who can even read a newspaper"- (135 Hansberry)
1. Beneatha exclaims OCOMOGOSIAY as Walter (Flaming Spear) dances a ritual dance in the background. This is an allusion to stereotypical African traditions. This is the way most Americans viewed Africa in the 1950's. They saw it as an uncivilized, tribal, and wild land. Walter proves this by mocking Beneatha with a stereotypical "African" dance.

2. This allusion is referring to the French and British colonies oppressing the native peoples in Africa. These colonies were infamous for their mistreatment of the indigenous population.

3. The robes Asagai gives Beneatha are a reminder of his homeland of Nigeria. They are traditional Nigerian robes used in ceremonies such as welcoming the hunters home or village dancing.

4. Asagai is talking to Beneatha about how he is the change in his home village. It is he who came to America seeking higher education and it is he who will bring change to his home. He tells Beneatha this when she is distraught from losing the insurance money and uses himself as an example that change can be achieved with hard work and determination.

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