The Gender Roles Of Beneatha And Other Characters In A Raisin In The Sun

January 23, 2023 by Essay Writer

Notions of gender roles are all throughout A Raisin in the Sun, a play written by Lorraine Hansberry. The play portrays a couple of weeks in the lives of a poor african american family named the Youngers. The story takes place in the 1950s in the south part of Chicago. After the death of Mamas husband, the Youngers get the life changing opportunity to inherit $10,000 from his life insurance. Each person in the family gets their fair share of the money to ease some of the struggles they go through and to help pursue the dreams of theirs. Walter who is the eldest of all the siblings, has his own dream of investing in a liquor store. Beneatha, the youngest sibling wants to use the money for medical school, Mama has plans as well for the money which is a significant part of the whole play. She wants to buy a house for her family and of course help fund her daughters medical school. They live in a very small, run down apartment with only one bedroom, but they still have huge dreams of having a better life. The theme of this essay is illustrated in a few subliminal ways and in some ways, pretty straightforward. Gender stereotypes are very prevalent in this play, and each character has their own attitude towards the subject.

All of the Youngers have their own perspective on their gender roles and wht they have to do to prove their masculinity or feminity, and their perspectives highlight their identities. The youngest women, Beneatha, has the most modern views. Her desire and dream of being a doctor was an occupation that was mainly dominated by males in this time era makes her feminism even stronger. She also has the belief that she may not be married at all nor was she concerned about marriage which ultimately stunned her family. Beneatha is the most feminist out of all the women she is surrounded by and will not tolerate the inequality and oppression towards women in her society. Not everyone in her family has the morals and opinions as her though. Even so, her older brother, Walter Lee, has a problem with criticizing her dreams of going to medical school and becoming a doctor: “Who the hell told you you had to be a doctor? If you so crazy ‘bout messing ‘round with sick people – then go be a nurse like other women – or just get married and be quiet”(act 1). Beneatha’s unconventional beliefs of her time highlight her strength and uniqueness from all other characters.

On the other hand, the older women, Mama and Ruth, share more traditional values on marriage and as their role as women. They both work traditional jobs doing one of the select few available things to do as an African American women at the time which is being a domestic servant. In the same fashion, Walter Lee holds the same ordinary views on gender himself. He struggles with satisfying his own role as a man, which affects his self esteem deeply. He defines his sense of manhood to his own self worth and identity. This feeling of lack decreases throughout the play though. Ultimately, being a role model for his son, a good husband to his wife and a better son to his mother is what identifies him as a man. Walter struggles with this because oppressed African American men like him in this time period could only afford to have the basic necessities. Therefore, when he wants to treat Ruth like the man he desires to be, he cannot: ”Somebody tell me – tell me, who decides which women is suppose to wear pearls in this world. I tell you I am a man – and I think my wife should wear some pearls in this world!’ (Act 3). This goes into the gender roles of how Walter is supposed to provide for his family in order to be a ‘GOOD’ husband and father for his family. With this stated it also describes the gender role of the female and not having to work and be a trophy wife. A female of this time period is expect to stay at home and take care of the children as well as cook and clean.


Read more