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A Raisin in the Sun
Transcript of A Raisin in the Sun
1. Women are economically, politically, socially, and psychologically oppressed by patriarchy (man is the head)
2. Woman is defined from her differences from male norms and values
3. All western (Anglo-European) civilization is based on patriarchal ideals (ex. Adam and Eve)
4. While Biology determines our sex (male vs. female) culture determines our sexuality (masculinity vs. femininity)
5. Gender issues play a part in every aspect of human production and experience, including the production and experience of literature, whether we are consciously aware of these issues or not
The Feminist Literary Theory
Using context information to understand the time period
Use three different sources to analyze the state of Chicago in the 1950s.
Responding to Themes in the Play
Analyze 5 quotes from the play to start thinking about important themes.
Read "Harlem" by Langston Hughes and analyze the poem for a connection to the play.
Read an article about current racial tensions and think about the current climate of the country.
A literary theory is a way of looking at and understanding literature
Literary theories are not inside the text.
While these theories can be applied and connected to many texts, they are not elements or parts of every story.
Literary theories are different perspectives of looking at and understanding pieces of literature
Common assumptions of the feminist theory:
The Feminist Literary Theory
Literary theories apply to most texts whether we are thinking about them or not.
You have likely analyzed a text or story using a literary theory but just not realized it!
Common Questions of Feminist Theory
1. How is the relationship between men and women portrayed?
2. What are the power relationships between the male and female characters?
3. How are male and female roles defined?
4. What constitutes masculinity and femininity and how do characters embody these traits?
5. Do characters take on traits from other genders? If so, how do the other characters react to this?
6. What does the work say about women's creativity?
7. What role does the work play in terms of women's literary history and literary tradition?
*8. What does the work reveal about patriarchy?
What do we know about masculinity and femininity during the 1950's?
*Real world issues that authors and artists criticize in their work*
They could be criticizing societal issues:
Compare these two images
Think back to the I Love Lucy clip that we just watched...
*What does that episode criticize about gender roles (masculinity and femininity)?
-There are certain traits for each gender that are determined by our culture
-Gender roles are defined by society
-Art that portrays characters in certain ways in order to criticize something about gender roles in society
Art often portrays races in certain ways in order to criticize racial issues in our society
Stereotypes are often used artistically to criticize certain racial norms or false ideas about racial stereotypes
There are many different social criticisms present in
Raisin in the Sun
. Three of the main criticisms focus on Gender Roles, Racial Issues, and Socioeconomic Differences.
Racial Identity for African Americans
(Harlem Renaissance 1920's)
*Great Migration (move from Southern parts of the US to the Northern parts of the US
*Growing African American Middle Class
*Increase in Awareness and Activism
*Harlem became a middle class
community for African Americans
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat
Or crust and sugar over--
Like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sage
Like a heavy load
Or does it explode?
Raisin in the Sun - Characters
Let's vote on actors that we will envision playing the roles of our characters
1. Ruth Younger
2. Walter Lee Younger
3. Travis Younger
4. Beneatha Younger
5. Lena "Mama" Younger
6. Joseph Asagai
7. George Murchison
8. Mrs. Johnson
9. Karl Linder
1950's & Racial Identity
Walter Lee Younger
Lena "Mama" Younger
The protagonist of the play. Walter is a dreamer. He wants to be rich and devises plans to acquire wealth with his friends, particularly Willy Harris. When the play opens, he wants to invest his father’s insurance money in a new liquor store venture. He spends the rest of the play endlessly preoccupied with discovering a quick solution to his family’s various problems.
Mama’s daughter and Walter’s sister. Beneatha is an intellectual. Twenty years old, she attends college and is better educated than the rest of the Younger family. Some of her personal beliefs and views have distanced her from conservative Mama. She dreams of being a doctor and struggles to determine her identity as a well-educated black woman.
Walter and Beneatha’s mother. The matriarch of the family, Mama is religious, moral, and maternal. She wants to use her husband’s insurance money as a down payment on a house with a backyard to fulfill her dream for her family to move up in the world.
Walter’s wife and Travis’s mother. Ruth takes care of the Youngers’ small apartment. Her marriage to Walter has problems, but she hopes to rekindle their love. She is about thirty, but her weariness makes her seem older. Constantly fighting poverty and domestic troubles, she continues to be an emotionally strong woman. Her almost pessimistic realistic attitude helps her to survive.
Walter and Ruth’s sheltered young son. Travis earns some money by carrying grocery bags and likes to play outside with other neighborhood children, but he has no bedroom and sleeps on the living-room sofa.
A Nigerian student in love with Beneatha. Asagai, as he is often called, is very proud of his African heritage, and Beneatha hopes to learn about her African heritage from him. He eventually proposes marriage to Beneatha and hopes she will return to Nigeria with him.
A wealthy, African-American man who courts Beneatha. The Youngers approve of George, but Beneatha dislikes his willingness to submit to white culture and forget his African heritage. He challenges the thoughts and feelings of other black people through his arrogance and flair for intellectual competition.
The only white character in the play. Mr. Lindner arrives at the Youngers’ apartment from the Clybourne Park Improvement Association. He offers the Youngers a deal to reconsider moving into his (all-white) neighborhood.
The Youngers’ neighbor. Mrs. Johnson takes advantage of the Youngers’ hospitality and warns them about moving into a predominately white neighborhood.
One of Walter’s partners in the liquor store plan. Bobo appears to be as mentally slow as his name indicates.
Cuba Gooding Jr.
Before We Read...
What would you do if you learned that you were going to receive $100,000?
While We Read...
Be on the lookout for evidence of the following THEMES that we introduced yesterday:
Gender roles (masculine v. feminine/traditional sterotypes)
Socio-Economic Status (rich v. poor)
Complete the Vocabulary in Context worksheet- try and think of the definition based on how the word is used in CONTEXT with the scene.
Vivica A. Fox
Dwayne Carter III
aka Lil' Wayne
Caucasians vs. African Americans
How do these two images differ?
Racial Identities (1950's)
1. Upper Class White Identity
2. Lower Class White Identity
3. Upper Class Black Identity
4. Lower Class Black Identity
"The Younger living room would be a comfortable and well-ordered room if it were not for a number of indestructible contradictions to this state of being" (Hansberry, 23)
How does this starting line describe the Younger's apartment?
What does the author mean by the phrase, "indestructible contradictions to this state of being" (Hansberry, 23)?
Setting part 2
"Its furnishings are typical and undistinguished and their primary feature now is that they have clearly had to accommodate the living of too many people for too many years--and they are tired. Still, we can see that at some time, a time probably no longer rembered by the family (except perhaps for MAMA), the furnishing of this room were actually selected with care and love and even hope--and brought to this apartment and arranged with taste and pride." (Hansberry, 23)
How does the author describe the Younger's apartment and how has it changed?
Setting Part 3
"That was a long time ago. Now the once loved pattern of the couch upholstery has to fight to show itself from under acres of crocheted doilies and couch covers which have themselves finally come to be more important than the upholstery. And here a table or a chair has been move to disguise the worn places in the carpet; but the carpet has fought back by showing its weariness, with depressing uniformity, elsewhere on its surface." (Hansberry, 23)
What mood does the author want to create at the beginning of the play? Why?
[Assimilationist] means someone who is willing to give up his own culture and submerge himself completely in the dominant, and in this case oppressive culture! (2.1.51)
How does the term, "assimilationist," connect to one of the themes in the play?
-Authors uses differences in upper and lower classes to criticize and point out issues about the division of wealth in our society
What social criticism is already developing in the first scene through the character of Walter Lee Younger?
-What does the author criticize about the actions and mentality of the upper class in the play?
-What does the author criticize about the lower classes?
-What does the author criticize about racial differences?
-How does the term assimilationist tie in with the racial criticism?
Act 1, Scene 2
Some things to know before you read...
19th century tyrannical French emperor who invaded and conquered much of Continental Europe
• Most populated nation in Africa.
• More than 250 ethnic groups, the four major ones being the Hausa and Falani people in the North, the Yoruba people in the Southwest, and the Ibo people in the Southeast.
• Nigeria was ruled by various European countries (Holland, Denmark, Spain, Sweden, and England), but finally became independent and a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
• In 1963, Nigeria became a republic.
• A western African republic bordering the North Atlantic Ocean.
• The nation achieved its independence on July 26, 1847.
“They need more salvation from the British and the French” (Pg. 57)
• The British and the French were the dominant colonial rulers in Africa.
a Nigerian tribe
“Don’t have to ride to work on the back of nobody’s streetcar”
Prior to the civil rights movement of the sixties, “Jim Crow” laws in the segregated South required African Americans to ride in the back of buses. Riding in the front was permitted only if no whites needed a seat. In Montgomery, Alabama, in 1954, Rosa Parks refused to relinquish her seat.
After You Read...
Pretend that you are a psychologist, that the Younger family has been referred to you for family therapy and that you have just listened to all of their concerns. Write up a report for your supervisor explaining what the main conflicts in the family are, listing each character’s perceptions of his or her problems, and how you think those problems would best be resolved.
Note which conflicts are external and which are internal. Would you recommend that any family members have individual or marriage counseling? Give your reasons why.
Conflict: a struggle between two opposing forces
Thinking about Gender Roles
At the beginning of the scene, who is cleaning the apartment?
What does this tell us about the typical PLACES for men and women in the time period?
Jomo Kenyatta- leader of the Kenyan independence movement and served as the leader of the newly independent country until his death.
Reference to Harriet Beecher Stowe's iconic novel Uncle Tom's cabin.
The phrase "Uncle Tom" has also become an epithet for a person who is slavish and excessively subservient to perceived authority figures
A Titan in Greek Mythology
Credited with inventing fire
Creating a Timeline
In your literature circle groups you will work to create a timeline for the entire play.
-Split your timeline into sections using the Acts and Scenes.
(Include 15-20 of the most important events)
-Create visuals to go along with your timeline
(Include 10 symbols or drawings on your timeline)
-Include quotes from the play to make connections
(Include 10 quotes from the play on your timeline)
one who does not change much in the course of a story
changes as a result of the story's events
has only one or two traits and no depth
is like a real person, has many different character traits which sometimes contradict one another.
a character that contrasts with the protagonist and keeps the protagonist from achieving his/her goals
terms you need to know
Character Body Charts
Work in your group to create a life-size body chart of one character from our play. Your image will need to include
to go along with your characters and
from the play.
12 quotes total
-6 quotes connected to what your character says, feels, and thinks
-6 quotes connected to symbols that go along with your character
Drawn with markers
Title is character's name