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“Raisin in the Sun” by Hansberry and “I’m Still Here” by Hughes

The problem of race discrimination has been always a tight corner in the American history. In the course of the migration process, African Americans were fighting for the equality rights and freedoms. Nowadays, skin color still determines the relation between people thus influencing the way and the conditions of living. Regarding this, the literary works under consideration prove that stereotypes and prejudices will always be chasing the black people due to inevitable connection with the past. However, the play “Raisin in the sun” by Lorrain Hansberry and a poem “I’m Still Here” by Langston Hughes directly refers to the conflict of racial prejudices and the hardships the black people have to overcome whereas a short story “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker enlarges on problem of traditions and cultural inheritance. Anyway, the pieces of literature reveal the hard fate of the African Americans. Therefore, it is necessary to analyze the major conflicts of the works and to define the similarities and differences between them.

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The major conflict of the “Raisin in the sun” and “I’m still here” are both based on the historical background as well as in “Everyday Use”. Though all the works refers to the event that take place in the twentieth century, there are still some traits of the period when black people were subjected to the inferiority. All the works reflect the author’s background discovering the situation in the second half of the previous century when African Americans were striving to integrate the white society on equal rights and preserve their dignity and respect. However, the first two selected works are more centered on the revealing of the consequences of the slavery past whereas the opposed story is mostly focused on devotedness to the traditions which are of primary importance for each nation.

Based on the above, the play and the poem uncover the conflict of racial prejudice as the eternal battle between the black and the white communities. Hence, “Raisin in the Sun” focuses on a rigid and intrinsic confrontation within the Younger family as the result of the external influence. Living in the poor house with low-income level, money is the main issue for each member of the family to care about. In this situation, the check insurance that must come from the death of Mr. Younger Sr. is the urgent issue in the family. The poor status converts the money problem into the complex family conflict. Money reveals all the vices of the family members and generates the misunderstanding between Mrs. Johnson and her children, Walter and Beneatha. What is important is that the author connects the money problem with racial issues. Hence, when Mr. Lindner, a white man, proposes to take money from him in order to improve the family situation, Lena Johnson withdraws the proposal saying that they would not betray their race since honor and grace is more important than power of dollar. Though the essence of the poem “I’m still here” is not based on the money, still it also topic of the story of the eternal struggle between the white and the black for the equal human treatment.

Unlike these the works previously discussed, the story “Everyday Use” is more similar with Hansberry’s play in social and money matters. Both works runs about the family problems and the poor status in the white society. However, unlike the main character of Hansberry’s play, Walker’s heroines are reluctant to integrate into the white society as they are more eager to preserve the national identity rather than to fight for the equality within the adverse community. In “Everyday Use”, the mother and her two daughters are more devoted to the heritage of African people rather than to vain striving to the recognition in society. Despite the controversial outlook on cultural and national heritage, both mother and her two daughters are still focused on cultural and traditional issues.

A deeper consideration should be taken while opposing Hansberry and Walker’s mothers who are quite similar character as they face similar problems with their children. Both heroines face the problem of generation gap. They also encounter the conflict between their children who cannot meet halfway. In “Everyday Use”, the daughters have completely different outlooks on life. Dee, the elder daughter, strives to renew the traditions of African people by displaying them as something that was in the past and they must be carefully guarded. She does not attempt to become the part of the people but treats it as history that should be remembered. Moreover, Dee decides to change his name for “Wangero” thus manifesting her desire to follow the tradition of nation (DiYanni 2007, p. 750). The younger daughter, Maggie, seems to be part of the past because she lives in it and applies the historic relics for domestic use. Anyway, both heroines contribute to the development of national originality. However, the thing is their mother is at a loss, as she does not know how to reunite the family and to find the golden medium. In the second work, Mrs. Johnson also encounters the conflict between her children based on money matters. She is confused because she could find the right decision concerning how to spend the money and to please Walter and Beneatha.

The conflict of race and the fight for human rights the hardships of African Americans find different explanations in the opposed works. The events described in the play and in the poem are based on the right movement of the black population against the oppression and inferiority. The main idea is hidden in the author’s support of the separatist spirit and integration process at the same time. Hence, the Younger family is ready to move to Clybourne Park to start a better life. However, they immediately face many adversities on the way to their dream owing to the white society expressing its direct refusal to accept this “raisin” in the “sun”. Here, the superior society sees African Americans as defected and spoilt that do no deserve to live among the elite people. The same conflict is discovered in the poem “I’m still here”. Hughes shows that despite the obstacles the black nation will not “stop [laughing], stop [loving], stop [living]” but will be “still here” (DiYanni 2007, p. 1014).

Unlike the opposed works, Walker’s characters refuse to struggle for the equality, as they are fully satisfied with the live they live. The story is not connected with racial issues and the unjust human treatment. In fact, it mostly deals with the matters that emerge within the African American community. The family is more concerned with the urgent problem of nation identity that could be applied to other nations as well. In this respect, the story is more likely to touch upon the problem of ethnical minorities rather than on the racial differentiation. As it can be viewed, all literary works refer to the problems emerging in the black communities but the essence of the conflicts is quite different.

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One more difference of the opposed works of literature lies in the way the conflicts are resolved. Hence, the first two selected compositions reflect the radical and active participation of the African American in fighting for their dignity and honor as well as for the right to live in the prejudiced society. Both works describe the pressures executed by the superior nation over the blacks. Hence, the poem “I’m still here” show the revolutionary spirit of the people and their desperate desire to live a normal life despite being “scared and battered” (DiYanni 2007, p. 1014). The same could be traced in Hansberry’s play. The poem manifests the outright and brave opposition against the segregation and pejorative attitude of the white American society. In the common phrases, we could perceive the hues of important historical processes so that we can imagine what adversities African immigrants faced. “Raisin in the Sun” is the manifestation of rigorous protest of the African family against the discriminative environment they live in. All the members of the Younger family explicitly show their resentment concerning the conditions of living thus searching the least possibility to move to a better dwelling. Mrs. Johnson is confident that they “[have] put enough into rat trap to pay for four houses by now” (DiYanni 2007, 1879). Calling the house as “rat trap”, the family members show their awareness of the calamity and the desire to fight against the injustice.

In contrast, the short story by Alice Walker does not accentuate on radical approaches in conflict resolution. Instead, the family is depicted as passive and reluctant to make some changes in their life. They seem to be scared enough to resist the pressure thus living the life controlled by the privileged layers of society. Living in the past, the family is incapable to see the future showing its ignorance and unconsciousness.

All the literary works enlarge on the urgent issues of the current society thus contributing to the consideration of such problem as African American discrimination and national identity. Despite the different genre and the different presentation of the selected pieces of literature, they are of great value for people to recognize the problem and to find some relevant decisions.

As for me, I was rather impressed by the Hansberry’s play and the way the author presented the reader with an in-depth confrontation between two different classes through the relations within the African American family. In the light of racial prejudice, Hansberry skillfully discloses other essential philosophical problems like the generation and social gap, the family conflict and the money issues, the problem of gender and human treatment. By means of brilliant metaphors and comparisons, the author managed to reveal the reality using the concrete examples so that I could imagine a veritable picture of the life and habits of African Americans. The story is worth reading one more time since it is full of interesting details. I believe, it would be useful to see the screen version of the work in order to get a better idea of true atmosphere of the time and situation. In comparison with other compositions, the play discloses the conflicts more profoundly and true to life. It could be observed in the vital dialogues and real scenes that render problems and the shortcomings of the post-war society.

I was even more struck by the laconism and revolt spirit of the poem by Langston Hughes. Within five lines, the author managed to describe the history of the right movement and all the experience of African American people during the fight for the equality and justice. The poem is saturated with the positive thinking of the author and his confidence in the good future for the black society. Therefore, this poem fills me with the positive energy and generates the hopes for a better future.

The strong point of Walker’s “Everyday Use” is the desperate devotedness to the cultural and historical values. The author managed to render the idea that each nation should strive to preserve its originality and uniqueness. Therefore, the story greatly deposited to both to the literal and cultural heritage as it managed to awake the feeling of national consciousness. In particular, it discloses the idea that African people has much in store for future generations.

The thorough analysis and comparison of the selected works, I have concluded that all the pieces of literature are worth reading. Relying on the concrete examples from the text, I have found out that the major similarity of the works in opposition lies in the depiction of the African American life under the pressure of the white community. However, Hansberry’s play and Hughes’s poem highlight the racial confrontation that are completely absent in Walker’s story. Anyway, all the work, more or less, renders the author’s personal attitude to the problem.

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Reference

DiYanni R. (2007) Literature, reading fiction, poetry, and dram. NY: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 12). “Raisin in the Sun” by Hansberry and “I’m Still Here” by Hughes. https://studycorgi.com/raisin-in-the-sun-by-hansberry-and-im-still-here-by-hughes/

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"“Raisin in the Sun” by Hansberry and “I’m Still Here” by Hughes." StudyCorgi, 12 Nov. 2021, studycorgi.com/raisin-in-the-sun-by-hansberry-and-im-still-here-by-hughes/.

1. StudyCorgi. "“Raisin in the Sun” by Hansberry and “I’m Still Here” by Hughes." November 12, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/raisin-in-the-sun-by-hansberry-and-im-still-here-by-hughes/.


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StudyCorgi. "“Raisin in the Sun” by Hansberry and “I’m Still Here” by Hughes." November 12, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/raisin-in-the-sun-by-hansberry-and-im-still-here-by-hughes/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "“Raisin in the Sun” by Hansberry and “I’m Still Here” by Hughes." November 12, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/raisin-in-the-sun-by-hansberry-and-im-still-here-by-hughes/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) '“Raisin in the Sun” by Hansberry and “I’m Still Here” by Hughes'. 12 November.

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