Discussion: A Raisin in the Sun

How do the different characters in A Raisin in the Sun think about identity? Is identity based on family? Faith? Values? Money? Prestige? Dignity? Occupation? Personal expression? How do the different characters think about heritage as an aspect of identity?

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12 thoughts on “Discussion: A Raisin in the Sun

  1. Each character in a Raisin in the sun has a different perspective about how to form an identity. For example Walter believes that for him to get an identity he needs to become rich and achieve the big American dream and have dignity. While Mama thinks that by having good values and having faith in god and caring for her family that is what an identity is based on. Ruth has a simpler approche to her identity she believes that identity is based on good values, kindness, and compassion. Bennies thinks that to find her identity she needs to become a doctor and learn about her ancestors and her rich past has a part African Woman. A raisin in the sun is mainly about finding an identity and each character has a different way of approaching it some by money others by education , and some by just learning about where they came from. Many characters in the play dont care about their heritage and dont might not knowing it because they believe that that wont help them in discovering t heir identity but others like Beneatha, and Asagi care about knowing their heritage and believe it can guide them through to the path to their identity. Personal experience has led them to have different believes in the matter of the term identity.

  2. I think each members of the family has different view points about identity. And I think it’s because every member has different life experiences, generations, jobs, and backgrounds. For instance, Mama believes that thinking about religion, faith and value of money is a way to care her family. For Ruth, it’s kinda similar with Mama but she thinks kindness, patience, and good relationship between people and family members are important too. Also Walter wants and thinks that he has to gain a lot of money to get his own identity. Likewise, Beneatha believes that the knowledge is the way to achieve her identity. As we can see, every member has their own ideas and thoughts but we can’t decide who’s right because they are all their own dreams and it came from their own knowledge, experience, and backgrounds.

  3. In A Raisin in the Sun, each character has a different point of view of identity.
    For Walter, identity is based on money but for Ruth or Mama, identity is based on family, values, dignity and also faith. For Benatha, identity is based on family, dignity and values.
    So the identity for each character is different and we can notice it with their behavior like Walter is mean, thinking about money everytime, Beneatha is always trying to pacify the tensions in the family by humour, Ruth is always nice and peaceful and Mama is kind the same but she still stays the leader of the family but she also think that religious will bring peace in the family.
    To conclude we can say that each character has a different perspective of identity and has differents ways to show who they are.

  4. Throughout this play, we see a lot of different identities expressed in very different ways.
    Beneatha expresses herself through her origins with the help of Asagai.
    Ruth doesn’t really express herself unless there is a need (when she has to reprimand Walter) but when she knows that they are going to move, she explodes and tells everything she was hiding.
    Walter expresses himself in his family but nobody understands him so he finds other people who are understand him, but the problem is that, for him, being home isn’t a good thing. He also neglects his origins, except when he is drunk.
    Mama expresses herself through god (which is a source of rules and values for the family) and also through her plant, which is also a reflection of her dreams.
    Finally, Travis expresses himself through his dad (but we don’t really have a character development for him in this play) and mainly wants to be like him (same job).

    • I disagree with Martin about Walter’s identity, I think he WANTS his identity to rely on his career and what he has done by himself. Throughout the play, it is noticeable that he is trying to show to his mother that he doesn’t need his family’s support, he wants to be THEIR support and work for that. He is like a child trying to show that he is capable of doing something. His career is one of his most important motivation and we can assimilate this way of life to his identity. We can also see when he is dancing with Beneatha that his cultural heritage is also one important part of his identity.
      His identity is way more complex than just family. I would even say his identity is based on his father’s one and he is in the pursue of his investment.

  5. The characters in this play have a very different perspectives of identity. Walter believes that identity is based on the amount of money he gains, whereas Beneatha believes that identity comes from what you do, who you want to be and who you choose to be and what has been achieved to become who you are. Mama believes that identity comes from faith in god and dignity and Ruth believes that identity is much simpler, and thinks that it comes with values. Asagai bases his identity on his past and his family’s past, and it seems like George hasn’t truly thought of it. when it comes to heritage, we can see that Walter clearly makes a future identity for himself page 83 saying: “One day when you are seventeen I’ll come home — home from my office downtown somewhere” to which travis responds: “You don’t work in no office, daddy”. Walter clearly makes an identity for himself before even having the possibility to have that identity for sure.

  6. I agree with what a lot of people have said in this series of comments. Walter clearly believes in his identity being based off of his success. He is not respected, and his bitterness evolves off of the fact that he thinks that, in a way, his identity is stolen. Beneatha is the woman that she is, her identity is being defined throughout the play. With Asagai this identity that she has built is put to the test, with the story of her origins coming into view. Ruth, I think, has not really built up much of an identity. Other than the secondary chaperone, she isn’t much other than the wife of Walter. Mama is a servant of God, and her beliefs go before all else. The whole family’s identities differ, whether based on their family life, money, beliefs etc.

  7. I agree with what most people have said here, each character in the play has different personalities and ideas which make their own identity. Each of the characters identity is based in different things, for example Walter’s idea of identity is to be rich, powerful and prestigious, while Mama believes that identity is achieved by being a faithful person and taking care of her family. Beneatha’s heritage is very important to understand her identity as she thinks that her ancestors are a big part of her and take part in her personality, she also thinks that to get her ideal identity she must be a doctor. Lastly Ruth thinks that identity is earned by being a good person and having values

  8. Identity has many different perspectives, it all depends in the personality and way of acting of each character.

    From Walter´s point of view someone can be defined by it´s clothes, as it happens with George:
    Walter: “Well, they all look crazy as hell – white shoes, cold as it is.” By this quote Walter considers George as a Black man who wishes to be white. Also he takes into consideration the money, the job… Walter is the character that judges the most people´s appearance.

    Mama is a character that isn´t superficial, she cares about people´s believes, goodness, courage, maturity… “There is always something left to love. And if you ain´t learned that, you ain´t learned nothing.” The heritage of her husband is part of her identity, during the play is it her choice to decide what to do with the money, as she saw how much effort it cost to gain it.

    Beneatha, she is different, she doesn´t believe in money, but neither in God, Knowledge is something important when she gets to know someone, as discussion is the way she reveals herself. George: “We always talk”; Beneatha: “Yes – and I love to talk”

    Asagai: dreams, courage, pride… This three words describe him and that is what he sees on others. Asagai is proud of his origins and believes in changing the world into a better place, so anyone near him will be seen as a possible partner for his planned adventures. He doesn´t consider the American dream as a real option for everyone and does not recognize someone worth it, if the American Dream is it´s priority. “Already, and after such a small defeat, you are worshipping despair.”

    Ruth: she is tired, disappointed… The most mysterious character, she never really says what she thinks. Her personal expression and way of talking are really important in this book as she uses a lot of symbolic expressions. “Eat your eggs, they are gonna be cold.”

    Throughout the book there are lots of different identities and ways of seeing life but at the end everyone needs to learn from others like Walter does from Mama and Ruth from Asagai…

    • I think that each character of this novel has a different perspective on how to define identity. For example Walter believes that money makes a person and that everything depends on it and that clothes defines a person ( at the beginning the play) layer in the play he is going to realise that he was wrong. Mama, on the other hand believes that religion, love, and family defines our identity and so it could be the reason why her and Walter have a hard time understanding each other. Beneatha, her, believes in tradition, origines, hardworking and dreams. Which makes her the one person that wants to change the way things are in society. Ruth just believes in family and love. Asagai believes in the same things as Beneatha. And George only believes in appearances and thinks wealth makes everything.

  9. I agree with Capucine and Brune, none of the characters in the play relate when talking about what creates an identity. As stated before by Brune, to become someone Walter believes money is the solution. Not only does Walter think all their problems will financial be solved by money, but he believes he would gain the respect he so desperately wants if he was richer.
    Beneatha believes knowledge is the most important thing, throughout he book shes seen trying to understand their culture and working hard for what she wants in order to achieve those goals. In contrast, Ruth and Mama both believe in family and love as the key to an identity. Walter even points this out, when he tells his wife that Mama always listens to her, because they understand each other. In my opinion identity is built on values, the respect you give and to whom shows more of the person you truly are than materialistic things such as money.

  10. Each character in a raisin in the sun struggle to find their identity throughout the play, by crossing different obstacles and events. Walter thinks he would find his identity through money and a respectable job, but ends up discovering his identity is his family. On her side, Beneatha tries to explore her Africanorigins, as she feels that her past is part of her identity. Mama feels like her identity, as a mother, is caring for her family and making sure they all live happily in her dream house. And Ruth seems to think she will find her identity by being respectful to other and being a good wife to her husband. to conclude, every character explores their identities in different ways that all seem to join at the end of the play.

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