Patriarchy In Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin In The Sun

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In a patriarchal society, women are encouraged to focus on their family and its well-being. Most often, women achieve this by caring for the children and the home. However, in the play A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry suggests that women do not have to focus on the family. Instead, they can prioritize their own well-being. Hansberry exhibits these ideas through two female characters, Ruth and Beneatha. Whereas Ruth adheres to patriarchal standards, Beneatha rebels against them. Hansberry contrasts Ruth and Beneatha to study how their adherence affects their personal and social well-beings. Through her play, she suggests that opposing the patriarchy leads to a more positive mindset and more stable relationships.

In conforming to patriarchal norms, Ruth fulfills the roles of homemaker and wife. In the first scene of the play, Ruth makes breakfast and tells her son Travis, “Sit down and have your breakfast,” signifying that she has embraced her role as mother (Hansberry 490). Ruth’s familial focus is most evident through her love for her son, and because his happiness is one of her main priorities, her happiness becomes dependent on his. For instance, when Mama, Ruth’s mother-in-law, purchases a new house, Ruth shouts, “PRAISE GOD!” (Hansberry 535). A larger house would give Travis his own bedroom and grant him more space to
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In doing so, she becomes dependent on others and cannot fulfill her personal goals. In contrast, opposing the norms allows both members of a relationship to further themselves while still supporting each other. Because each member develops their independent characters, they establish a healthier relationship and a healthier family. Thus, Hansberry encourages her audience to reject the patriarchy, arguing that focusing on one's personal needs is as important as supporting the
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