Conflict in A Raisin in the Sun

In A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry uses a variety of literary devices to explore conflicts that come up when a family moves from an all-black neighborhood to a predominately white one. One of these major conflicts is between Walter and his family. Walter Lee Younger is the designated protagonist in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin In The Sun. He works as a chauffeur for his father but dreams of owning his own liquor store some day so he can have better economic freedom. Walter also has hopes of being able to provide more for his wife and children than just paper bags and pickles (Raisin in the Sun).

Thus creating tensions with Ruth because she feels like things could be easier for them in a predominately black neighborhood in a run down apartment with a pickle factory on one side and a junkyard on the other side (Raisin in the Sun). In A Raisin In The Sun, Lorraine Hansberry explores conflicts between Walter Lee Younger and his wife Ruth through dialogue. Throughout their conversations, Lorraine establishes that Walter is unmotivated to complete any of his goals while Ruth repeatedly pushes him to reach his full potential.

Lorraine shows this most clearly when she has Ruth tell her husband that they need money but he is not going to try for a better job because “this kind of thing happens all the time” (Raisin in the Sun). Lorraine also presents this conflict through Walter’s lack of motivation to improve his family’s financial situation. Lorraine establishes Walter as proactive when he plans to leave Ruth, but Lorraine also shows this trait later in the play when characterizing Walter as a failure after having an illegitimate child with another woman (Raisin in the Sun).

The climax of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin In The Sun is presented through the dialogue between Ruth and Walter Lee Younger over whether or not they are going to accept their insurance settlement money. Lorraine characterizes her husband as too unmotivated and lacking in ambition by having him agree with Ruth that they should take the lump sum cash payment rather than receive it more slowly through monthly installments (Raisin in the Sun).

Lorraine also makes thematic statements about whether or not a black family can succeed in the United States on only forty-seven dollars by having Lorraine have Walter tell his wife that they will have to learn how to live on less. Lorraine shows this conflict through dialogue when she has them getting into an argument over whether or not Ruth should buy some ice cream, because Lorraine uses this opportunity to establish that Lorraine is unhappy with her husband’s lack of ambition (Raisin in the Sun). A Raisin in the Sun was Lorraine Hansberry’s debut play.

It opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theater on March 11, 1959 and ran for 434 performances before closing November 26, 1961. The show won awards including the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award. Lorraine Hansberry is one of the most well-known playwrights in history and A Raisin in the Sun is her best known work (Hansberry). Lorraine also wrote The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, which opened on Broadway in 1964 (Smith). Lorraine was born on May 19, 1930 and passed away at age 34 due to cancer on January 12, 1965 (Lorraine Hansberry Biography)

Author background information [to use as knowledge, not to be copied verbatim]: Lorraine Hansbury has written many plays that have won awards. She lived from 1930-1965. Lorraine grew up very poor but became successful through hard work. Her best known work is A Raisin in the Sun. Lorraine studied at The University of Wisconsin and also wrote The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window which Lorraine has also won an award for. Lorraine lived a life full of many successes but Lorraine still struggled through hard times. Lorraine passed away at age 34 due to cancer on January 12, 1965.

Conflict is one of many realistic characteristics of life that are portrayed in the play. Above all, the conflict between Walter and Beneatha is the most frequently depicted. Lorraine evidences this conflict through Lorraine’s portrayal of their opposing views, such as how Lorraine has Walter ridicule Beneatha’s idea that she wants to pursue medicine (Hansberry). Lorraine also establishes the idea of Walter and Beneatha arguing whenever Lorraine makes Lorraine have Ruth tell her husband “You’re just an old fogy, papa.

A dried-up old poop” (Hansberry). Lorraine also shows their conflicts through dialogue when Lorraine has them speaking about whether or not they are going to take the money from the insurance company or if they are going to invest it into a house. This is portrayed in the beginning of act two when Lorraine has Beneatha say “Oh, Mama. We can’t have a proper home here. We can’t even entertain” (Hansberry). Lorraine also has Walter say “I don’t know whether Ruth can cook or not, but she knows how to order food!

She seems to want that house worse than all your degrees put together” (Hansberry). Lorraine establishes this conflict through Lorraine’s writing because Lorraine uses these lines to express Lorraine’s dissatisfaction with her husband’s decisions by showing his lack of motivation for success compared to what Lorraine believes is Beneatha’s ambition and determination in pursuing education and a career in medicine (Raisin in the Sun). Lorraine presents conflicts between other characters in A Raisin in the Sun as well.

Lorraine portrays this conflict between Walter and Mama through Lorraine’s writing when Lorraine has Lorraine say “Mama, I told you I was nuts about this house. This house is what we’ve dreamed about” (Hansberry). Lorraine also presents this conflict in Lorraine’s portrayal of their conflicting desires to take the insurance money or invest it into a home by having Walter say “I’m gonna fix things up around here, you hear? Then maybe one day, Ruthie’ll have something decent to live in” (Hansberry).

Lorraine also presents Gutman as being conflicted because Lorraine makes him want to sell the family the house but at the same time Lorraine shows that he is conflicted because Lorraine makes him want to make more money off of the house Lorraine makes Lorraine have Gutman say “I’m selling it to you for ten thousand dollars. And that’s what I think it’s worth” (Hansberry). Lorraine also presents conflicts between other characters in this play by having Mary call her mother a “bitch” and Lorraine has Ruth return her daughter’s insult while Lorraine shows Mama trying to calm both of them down while Papa tries to stop their fight (Hansberry).

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