A raisin in the Sun Support Notes Cultural Assimilation



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A Raisin in the Sun Support Notes
Cultural Assimilation (melting pot theory) – Giving up your individual culture and integrating with the larger community.(Ex: dress, speech, hair etc..)
Cultural Pluralism (salad bowl theory)– Different cultures can exist side by side in the same society while keeping their individual characteristics (speech, dress, hair, etc…)

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Mama’s(Lena) Plant symbolizes:

  • Her caring nature and dreams for her family.

  • The plant never gets much water, sunlight or the opportunity to grow and bloom, just like the YOUNGER FAMILY.

  • It also represents Mama’s dream to own a little house with a garden by using her husband’s insurance money as a down payment


Mama is characterized as: the matriarch (female head of the family), strong, religious, kind-hearted, moral

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Beneatha’s hair symbolizes:

  • When her hair is straightened (mutilated) it represents her assimilation into American culture.

  • After meeting Asagai, she cuts it short. It becomes natural and curly. This represents her embracing her African-heritage.

  • It also represents her cultural pluralistic beliefs.


Beneatha is characterized as: intellectual, well-educated, dreams of being a doctor, does not share the same religious beliefs as her mother, wants a man to appreciate her intelligence more than her beauty

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Walter’s eggs symbolize:


Walter is characterized as: a dreamer, he wants to be rich through investing in a liquor store, loves his son, drinks to avoid problems in his life, works as a chauffeur although he wants to do more with his life

Ruth Younger

Characterized as: a hard worker who takes care of the tiny apartment., frustrated about living in poverty, wants to rekindle her love with her husband, pretty

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The Kitchen Window Symbol:

  • There is only 1 window in the apartment that allows only a little of sunlight inside

  • This represents “the small window of opportunity” that the Younger family has to make it out of the ghetto where they currently live

  • The sunshine that comes in represents the little amount of hope the family has

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Other Characters:

1) Travis Younger – Walter and Ruth’s son who has to sleep on the couch b/c there is not enough room
2) Joseph Asagai – Nigerian student who is in love with Beneatha. He represents cultural pluralism because he wants to hold on to his African culture
3) George Murchison – George’s white shoes symbolize his embracing White American culture. He is rich and well educated.
4) Mr. Karl Lindner – Offers the younger family money to not move into his all white community (Clybourne Park). He tries to intimidate the family by saying that they may have problems
5) Bobo and Willy Harris – Walter’s friends whom he wants to invest into the liquor store with.
6) Mrs. Johnson – Nosy neighbor who warns the family that they may suffer harm if they move into a white community
Themes:

  1. Never give up on your dreams

  2. A family’s love can endure hardships

  3. Shattered dreams can be mended through perseverance


Major Conflicts:

  1. Younger family vs. Society – Black family moving into a white community

  2. Beneatha vs. Society – Black female wants to be a doctor

  3. Mama vs. Walter – Different ideas for insurance $

  4. Walter vs. Willy Harris – Steals the insurance $

  5. Beneatha vs. Self – Should she assimilate or not


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