Systematic Gender Roles In Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin In The Sun

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Systematic Gender Roles within A Raisin in the Sun People care too much about what others think. They dress, act and conduct themselves in a manner based on how they might be perceived by others. There are expectations created by society based on gender resulting in gender roles that are passed down through generations based on specific ideas and beliefs about what is appropriate for each sex. In the 1950s, a specific blueprint was made for what it meant to be a “man”. There was to be “no sissy stuff”, as men should avoid being feminine and show no weakness. They had to be “the big wheel”, proving their social status through their successes in order to command respect and power. They were a “sturdy oak”, projecting confidence and hiding emotion. …show more content…

He has big dreams for his family, which sets high expectations for his son. Big Walter’s goals in life greatly influence Walter's desires and goals. Goals that Walter felt he needed to achieve, due to the standards created upon his father’s past. Mama always thought of Big Walter with high regards as she said, “But he sure loved his children. Always wanted them to have something-- be something. .. That’s where Brother gets all these notions (45)”. Big Walter always had dreams for his family, for their success and their happiness. It shows he wasn’t working for himself, but for his family. By working so hard for his family with a goal of wealth, it made Walter feel that the way for him to become a real and successful man was by providing for his family’s wealth. However, Big Walter was a dignified man, and was able to stay that way because he never let his dreams take control of him and lose sight of himself or his family. The main driving factor for his dreams was his family, if his idea of success overpowered the importance of his family, he would be risking both his family’s and his own dignity and sense of self in order to achieve his success. However, he never let the idea of success take control of him as Mama constantly praised him for all that he did. In her eyes, he was the image of a “man” and felt he brought …show more content…

As a result of a combination of generational values and societal conceptions, characters such as Walter created a skewed version of what it means to be a man. Today, being a man has a different connotation than it did in the 1950s. Gender equality is greatly emphasized as people try not to put the different sexes in categories. Compared to the 1950s, there are many more women supporting families while men stay at home (Bohn). This completely contradicts the Younger family’s view on what it means to be masculine. Lorraine Hansberry would support the decreasing emphasis on gender roles in today’s society as she constantly criticizes the negative way in which gender norms affect one’s values. Without such an emphasis on what a certain gender is supposed to be, it allows for one to focus much more on what is important to them without being influenced by one’s distorted view on what is considered “acceptable”. In conclusion, the characters Walter, Big Walter, and Travis are used to support Lorraine Hansberry’s thesis regarding gender roles and that the over emphasis on them can cause a distorted vision of what one is supposed to do in

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