The Life of African Americans in the 1950s. A Raisin In The Sun Essay Example

Living life in the 1950s was tough for African Americans. In the play “Raisin In The Sun,” author Lorraine Hansberry portrays the issues of racism and poverty. The Younger family in this play was impacted by these problems. Throughout the play, they faced these difficulties and exhibited what it was like for African American families. Hansberry also addresses the issue of loneliness within the Younger family using the literary techniques of ethos, pathos, and logos.

The purpose of  “Raisin In The Sun” is to manifest the racial discrimination towards the Younger family. While the family is discriminated against, they have dreams that are hard for them to achieve. Mama, who is the leader of the household, wants her family to be successful and to move out of the small, cramped apartment that her family lives in. She has two children, named Beneatha and Walter. Walter is married to Ruth, who has a child named Travis. The Younger family is about to receive a check for $10,000 from Mama’s husband who passed away. Ruth’s dream is to have a happy family and to be wealthy. Beneatha’s dream is to graduate medical school to become a doctor. Walter’s dream is to open a liquor store. He thinks that a store will give his family a substantial amount of money so they can live the American dream. He believes the American dream is being wealthy. While the family is cramped in their apartment, Ruth finds out that she is pregnant and thinks about abortion. She does not want to bring another child in this hateful world. There are complications and the feeling of loneliness within the family.

The author Lorraine Hansberry is credible talking about history because she can relate her own issues of race in her words. She grew up being discriminated against like the Younger family and can associate with their difficult situation. Since Hansberry was an activist in the civil rights movements, she creates Mama’s character in the play with a reliable personality. Mama is trustworthy because of the leader that she is for the whole family. Mama also has a justification for how she should be spending her own money. Hansberry successfully uses ethos through the character of Mama in contrast to Walter and his friend. This produces trust with the audience. 

Lorraine Hansberry intensely uses pathos to show the emotions of the Younger family. There were many emotions displayed through the duration of the play. Ruth Younger finds out that she is pregnant. She tries to talk to Walter, but he is so focused on his own liquor store that he does not pay attention. Walter is a character who stirs the most emotions. At breakfast, Walter tries to talk to Ruth about a dream. He says, “A man say to his woman “I got me a dream” (Act 1) While she responds by saying, “Eat your eggs, they’re gettin’ cold.” (Act 1). Walter thinks nobody in his family believes or pays attention to him. He is also frustrated with the current job he has as a chauffeur. As he remarks “I can see my future… just stretched out in front of me, my whole future. A big, blank, empty space full of nothin’.” (Act 2). He has the impression this job will do him no good. This produces emotion that the audience can resonant with.

The use of logos towards the audience gives reason and fact when Mama has her own logical expectation as to how she should spend her money. Ruth tells Mama she should go on vacation, but she would rather spend it on a house to provide for her family. Mama’s daughter Beneatha also gives a solid argument that some of the money should go towards her medical school. These produce systematic fact and reasoning for the audience.

The Younger family had a complicated life growing up in the 1950s. Poverty and racial discrimination was a huge issue back then. It was especially tough for the family to achieve their dreams while that occurred. Although now the problem is somewhat resolved, there are still people biased towards African Americans today. Lorraine Hansberry’s literary devices ethos, pathos, and logos successfully portrayed throughout the play issues that the family endured. 

Works Cited

Hansberry, Lorraine “Raisin In The Sun”



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