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The core issue projected by the Harlem renaissance is the notion of “two-ness”, a divided awareness of one’s identity. W.E. B. Du Bois, one of the leaders of the movement introduces this theme of divided identity of the blacks, in his influential book, “The Souls of the Black Folks” (1903). “One ever feels his two-ness – an American and a negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled stirrings; two warring ideals in a black body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”.(Souls of the Black Folks, PP5).
It is the spirit of the Harlem renaissance that is the essence of the play A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry. She declares this indebt ness by taking the title of the play from the famous poem by Langston Hughes quoted above. Till this play the blacks were given only small and comic roles in theatre largely as ethnic stereotypes. Thus this play for the first time brings the life of the black family to the centre stage. She uses black vernacular through out the play, which is usually considered as an inferior shade of the language, by the whites. The play deals with the same concern that Du Bois raises, of the black identity in an oppressive white majority society. It deals with the issues and conflicts such as poverty, discrimination and the construction of African –American identity. The back drop is America of the fifties, just following the World War two, which was considered as years of prosperity with happy housewives and the blacks content with their inferior status.
This rosy picture of the American society of the fifties gets canceled in this play which exposes the growing domestic discontent and racial tensions of those times. When staged in March 1959 for the first time, the black audience for a play was nearly non existent. But this play by Lorraine Hansberry brought the blacks into the theatre as the audience, for this was the first chance for them to see themselves and their own lives on the stage with characters talking their language. Youngers is an African American family living on the south side of Chicago in 1950s.The Rainsin in the Sun portrays a few weeks in the life of this family. The play opens in the living room of the family. The detailed description of the room, leads the reader into the depressive atmosphere that prevails in the family in spite of the love they nurture for each other. “Weariness has, in fact, won in this room. Everything has been polished, washed, sat on, used, scrubbed too often.All pretenses but living itself have long vanished from the very atmosphere of this room.” (Act 1, Scene 1, PP5). When the play opens, Ruth a 35 year old lady is trying to wake up her son sleeping in the sofa. She is living in the house with her husband Walter Lee and his family in that house. She is trying to make her son and husband to get ready for the day. Before starting any normal conversation, Walter Lee is asking his wife “Check coming today?”(Act1, Scene1, PP6).He is expecting a mail. This question about the check to come is repeated later in the play too. What Walter is asking about is the insurance check of $10000.This
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(“Langston Hughes Book Report/Review Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1250 words”, n.d.)
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(Langston Hughes Book Report/Review Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1250 Words)
“Langston Hughes Book Report/Review Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1250 Words”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/family-consumer-science/1420400-langston-hughes.
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