A Raisin In The Sun Beneatha's Identity

1686 Words7 Pages
The 1950s were oppressive and degrading towards the culture and identity of African Americans. This principle is especially personified through the drama, A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry. As a black female author in this time period, she was easily able to capture the racism and forced stereotypes poignant within the lives of the minorities. Beneatha, a fictional character in the play, represents the ambitious and suppressed black female intellectual who is stripped of her identity at every turn. The men in her life are as different as black and white, and in essence that is what they are. George represents the assimilationist aspect of black society. He aims to be like the rich white landowners by adopting their culture instead…show more content…
His name is Joseph Asagai and he embraces his African heritage and encourages Beneatha to do the same. He prefers people call him by his surname, which originates from a Yoruba tribe in Nigeria. Asagai visits Africa fairly often and loves sharing his culture with Beneatha. He even bequeaths her with the agnomen “Alaiyo,” another Yoruba word meaning the “One for Whom Bread-- Food-- is not enough” (473). With this he is denoting her sense of purpose and her thirst for discovering who she is and who she wants to be. He gives her gifts native to Africa, like the robes from his sister, and inspires her to find herself with them and through the influence they bring. He often has intellectual discussions with her about identity and progress. However, Asagai does not always convince Beneatha to love Africa with purely wholesome comments. In order to get his point across, he often ridicules the beliefs of assimilationist black people. He is the one who mentioned Beneatha’s hair was “mutilated” which prompted her to cut it off (Hansberry 471). In this way she expresses herself, but would never have done so without the provocation of Asagai. He also rebukes her need for her father’s insurance money to continue her education. He shows her that her dream of attending medical school is still going to be fulfilled without the insurance money, as it was never promised to her before she conjured up that dream. Advocating for Beneatha to finish her educational journey to become a doctor is another way he develops her confidence and wants her to become all she can be. Asagai believes she is the epitome the New World can offer: an educated, stubborn, beautiful black woman who owns her own heart and constantly betters her mind. He even proposes marriage to Beneatha, ushering her to return “back across the middle passage over which her ancestors had come” (Hansberry 511). Asagai is the
Open Document