A Raisin In The Sun Symbolism Analysis

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The Role of Symbols in A Raisin In The Sun
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry is a play that explores the theme of racial discrimination in American society. The play does this by illustrating the lives and struggles of the Youngers, a working class African American family in downtown Chicago during the 1950s. This was a period when the Black Civil Rights Movement was emerging to challenge the unjust society, in which African Americans were the victims. In order to develop the theme of racial discrimination and portray contrasting ways African Americans reacted to the embryonic movement, Hansberry utilizes symbols associated with main characters, such as Rosa’s command to her husband and Beneatha’s hair.

One of Rosa Younger’s command
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In Act one Scene one, she first enunciates the phrase, “eat your eggs instead”, in the face of an angry barrage of her husband,Walter, about his dream of opening a liquor store, which she refutes. The phrase works on three distinct levels. First, they immediately act as a buffer to keep her husband quiet. Second, they show that she has no willingness to support a project she feels that will be fruitlessly crushed by the unfair government licensing laws, which require African Americans to surmount an unbelievable amount of bureaucracy. Thirdly, the words represent her psychological acceptance of the American discriminatory condition. Sadly, she is one of the millions of African Americans who have been brainwashed into believing in white superiority. Thus, the phrase reappears again throughout the scene, to symbolize Rosa’s acceptance of racism whatever the cost. Her attitude shows an instilled belief in the futility of opposing racism and how she is surrendering instead of fighting to seek fair treatment in obtaining opportunities as an African…show more content…
Hair is a prominent and visible physical feature that is changeable according to prefered style, and therefore, it works well as a powerful symbol. At the beginning of the play, Beneatha has straight long hair, a popular style among the dominant white culture in the 1950s. At this time, most female African Americans were adopting this Caucasian hairstyle, even though it meant that they had to straighten their naturally curly hair. In other words, they were consciously or unconsciously being psychologically bullied to adapt to the mainstream white ways. This appears to be incontrovertibly an act of cowardice and submission to white dominance. Her first boyfriend, George, who is a rich African American, yet obviously subservient to Caucasian ways, will later comment that Beneatha “looks eccentric” (Hansberry 82), when he encounters Beneatha’s hair unstraightened and mutilated instead. This underlines how so many African Americans were fawning to Caucasian culture and even started to find it more attractive. Her early hairstyle symbolizes the loss of ethnic identity among the African American community, due to social oppression and racism. However, Hansberry hints early in the play that there maybe some so called brainwashed African Americans who retain strong, dormant, patriotic values. In Act 1 Scene 2, when Asagai gives Beneatha a traditional piece of African
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