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Green Thumbs in the Family - Essay Example

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Lorraine Hansberry's play A Raisin in the Sun centers around three generations of the Younger family as they struggle to both improve their condition and keep their family together. Being a black family in Chicago during the peak of post World War II racism, they have reached a crossroads both personally (between the family's past and its future) and socially (between accepted racism and social reform)…
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Green Thumbs in the Family
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Download file to see previous pages This paper will study the connections between these aspects of the plant and how exactly they correlate to both the Younger family and their internal dynamics.
The significance of the flower pot can be seen as an encompassing support. It is what keeps the necessary components together for the continuation of life. This directly parallels the family unity that all the characters exhibit to different degrees in varying ways from Walter's need to provide stable income for the family to Beneatha's drive to become a doctor, thus helping other people while providing security for her own. The most direct representation of this surrounding support can be found in two main examples, however: Walter Sr.'s insurance money and Lena's purchase of a new house for the family. The first of these is a result of a lifetime of hard work to support his family - and, despite to what extent the work may have killed Walter Sr., his efforts have extended beyond his own lifetime to support the family after his passing. The example of the new house is Lena's own contribution to nurture and provide for the family, for they have essentially overgrown their current abode and must be transplanted into a new vessel. This proves to be an additional aspect of the flowerpot's symbolism, for it allows the life within to be easily transported to new environments.
It is the support of the external flowerpot that contains the spirit of the earth inside - the full combination of heritage and environment which allows life to thrive. The earth within the Youngers' vessel contains the soil from everyplace they have ever been: from Africa to Southern America to Chicago. These aspects are paralleled through the characters. Beneatha carries a fascination of Africa, Lena carries all the memories of the South and it's racism. And as much as Beneatha rails against assimilation (ignoring the hypocrisy of her own plans to study Western medicine), both she and her brother Walter have done so to an extent. Lena is correct when she observes that her two children talk about things her and her husband never thought about - for their concerns are the concerns of a new day and a new environment. It is important to always remember the soil that initially nurtured one's life yet is also inevitable that some of the soil must be replenished, for whatever reason. Life needs a replenishment of nutrients; these come from what is most conducive to the current environment. Thus, the family must use the surrounding support of their heritage and family (the pot) to contain and combine the influx of new conditions ('assimilation' of new and old soil) in order for the life of the family to thrive.
There are two quotes from Lena in Act Two, Scene Three, where she first explains her actions with the plant as that she is "Fixing my plant so it won't get hurt none on the way" and then defending her plant by claiming that "It expresses ME!" Lena's consistent overtures to gardening (and the family's acknowledgement of it through their gardening gifts to her) are fitting, as she has nurtured the life of her family for so long. Yet her identification with it is somewhat incomplete, as revealed by her connecting her own children with it in Act One, Scene ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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