Feminist Critique- A Raisin In The Sun Essays Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Family, Money, Patriarchy, Pregnancy, Life, Household, Home, Social Issues

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2021/02/23

Patriarchy is described as a social system and way of life in which the males are thought to have primary power over the female gender. The males are allowed to predominate in roles such as political leadership, social privilege, preside over moral authority, as well as, have the control over property within a household. In the play “a raisin in the sun,” written by Lorraine Hansberry, the element of patriarchy can be witnessed on different occasions during the play. Lorraine Hansberry tries to depict the challenges experienced by a black family as it battles with its internal problems and white racism.
Lois Tyson’s book on critical thinking allows the reader of this play to have a firsthand view of the approaches to different elements in the play such as feminism and cultural criticism as seen in the African American criticism. In light of Lois Tyson’s approach, it is clear that women have been oppressed by patriarchy in different ways such as economically, politically, socially and psychologically(Tyson 85).
The economic form of patriarchy can be seen in the manner in which the Youngers intend to spend the money that was left for them in the form of the insurance check. Beneatha has a valid request to have the money given to her because she intends to enroll in a school and attain an honors degree in medicine. Their argument is sparked by the topic of money. This would have been a worthwhile endeavor because the resulting benefits would allow the whole family to benefit from having a doctor in the household. Her request is opposed by her brother Walter who tells her that she would be better of trying to become a nurse rather than a doctor because as a nurse she would be able to get into a marriage setting and lead a normal life.
Another form of economic patriarchy can be seen in the situation that arises when Walter’s wife, Ruth, discovers that she is pregnant again. She fears for her unborn child. The family has been witnessing financial constraints, and she has managed to get pregnant again. Ruth knows that having a second baby will add to the financial problems of the family thus leading to more quarrels. A decision is made, and Ruth considers having an abortion. She tells her husband Walter, who says nothing when Ruth admits that she was considering an abortion. Mrs. Younger decides to put a down payment on the new house in Clybourne Park because she is convinced that a new surrounding would be good for the family. The check is split, and a larger portion goes to Walter as he has his eyes on a business investment though he loses the money when his friend Willy Harris runs off with the money. The father figure in this household is Walter as he is the remaining male figure who can assert dominance in the family. His opinion is sought after by the females in the household, but the answers that the females in the family get suggest that their opinion is of a lesser notion compared to his (Tyson 85).
The political patriarchy is noticed from the beginning of the play. In Hansberry’s play, we witness the Younger’s family living in a small and cramped place in the south side of Chicago. It is a small dwelling that is often described as a closet especially because there are five individual living there. This was how it was for most African American families that lived in this region during the era in which the play was written. The 1950s were a turning point for America as this was when the |Civil Rights Movement began. This was because the south was divided by the Jim Crow laws that were utterly racist. Beneatha plays a special role in trying to express the sociopolitical issues that were faced during this period. She argues that the African Americans should be more in touch with their African roots instead of trying to be like the whites.
Owning a house in Clybourne Park area by Mrs. Younger seemed like a political incorrect move by their intended neighbors. This causes them to try and persuade the Younger’s from inhabiting their new home. Home ownership during this period was politically charged and led to various conflicts. In some areas, home ownership was often associated to the type of citizen that an individual was. This notion is not in line with the post slavery proclamations that “all men are created equal” as people from the black communities were denied access to the well-built housing structures that were reserved for the white families. It did not matter even I one was wealthy and able to pay for these houses. This notion can be seen in the play where Mr. Linder is asked to make an offer to the Younger family in order to deter them from moving into the Clybourne Park neighborhood. Lorraine Hansberry’s play identifies with the individual’s need to feel at home. Not only is this relevant to the household but also in the sense of belonging to a community, as well as, a country.
Psychological patriarchy is witnessed especially by Beneatha as she tries to make herself a doctor. She has the will, desire and determination needed to study and get her degree as a doctor but lacks the financial backing to do so. She is happy when her father’s insurance check arrives but is soon put down by her brother Walter who will not let her use the money to pay for her medical school. This is unfair to her especially towards the end of the story when it is realized that Walter lost the money while investing in the liquor store business.
Walter’s wife, Ruth, also is a victim of psychological patriarchy. Not long after the beginning of the play, she discovers that she is pregnant and is expecting their second child with Walter. She is struck with doubt on whether to keep the baby or not because she knows the living conditions in which they live. When she tells Walter of the news and that she was considering having an abortion, Walter does not seem to oppose the idea. Walter causes Ruth to suffer psychologically, yet he knows it takes two people to make a baby. He leaves Ruth to deal with the situation in a very irresponsible manner thus showing his immaturity.
After putting down a down payment on the house they intended to move into, the Younger’s get an offer to get back their money from the Clybourne Park Improvement Association. This came to be because the Younger’s new neighbors found out that they were an African-American family moving into a predominantly white neighborhood. Mr. Linder is sent by the association to try and convince the Younger’s to reconsider their decision. Linder even offers to give the Younger’s money in return for them to stay away from the new neighborhood. An element of social patriarchy is witnessed here, and the Youngers turn down his offer.
Beneatha has a suitor who goes by the name George Murchison. This is an individual who has been trying to win the heart of Beneatha, but she does not share the same feelings as he does him. The main reason why Beneatha does not want to be with Murchison is that she finds him to be blind to the problems experienced by different races. George Murchison does not understand the problems that an average African American household goes through and thus is in no position to ever understand Beneatha. She later receives a marriage proposal from Joseph Asagai, who is a Nigerian native. Joseph is determined to give Beneatha the things that she wants as he encourages her to get her medical degree and even proposes that she join him in Africa to live with him. Beneatha does not make her decision before the play ends.
The play brings about different mixed feelings to its readers and viewers as they move into the disappointing scene where the Younger’s lose the money inherited. Hansberry shows the challenges we see in family responsibility and the struggles that different individuals in a family go through. There was a sad turn of events, but we see the family move on and even become more united as they strive to work harder when they move into their new home. They leave their “ghetto” life behind and move into a suburb region.
At the end of Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” we see Mrs. Younger make an observation about her son Walter as she describes him to have become a real man. This is a positive turn from the notion posted in the viewer’s mind that had been created where the audience saw Walter as an irresponsible and immature person. This was because he has not lived up to the standards set by his late father (Hansberry and Kutsch 123). His decision to move the family from the ghetto to the suburbs, though not originally his, helps him find favor with the rest of the family, as well as, the audience.

Works Cited

Tyson Lois. Critical Theory Today: A User Friendly Guide. Routlege: London. 2012. Print.
Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. New York: Vintage Books, 1994. Print.

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