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What does Hansberry’s writing make you feel about Walter at this moment in the play?
In Lorraine Hansberry’s play, A Raisin in the Sun, Hansberry uses punctuation, stage directions ,and the diction of dreams to illustrate the complex character of walter in Act 2 scene 1 and how hansberry illustrated his emotions and behaviour very well to touch the audience and create a connection between them.
To begin with, Hansberry uses punctuation to show walter’s attitude and emotions when he talks. An example of this is when walter states “ Oh, Walter! Oh, Walter! [to GEORGE]: How’s your old man making out? I understand you all going to buy that big hotel on the Drive?” This shows that walter is using questions a lot to try to make George angry and invoke a negative emotion. He also uses 2 exclamation marks to emphasis his emotions. The emotion of frustration because he isn’t able to have what George has like a big house, money, and of course the american dream. In addition he also uses repetition of the phrase “oh, Walter!” two times. This shows that he wants to get attention and wants people to look at him and wants to feel cared for in a way and makes the audience feel a sense of pity toward Walter. Another striking example is “ Yeah ̶ well, when you get the time, man. I know you a busy little boy.” This shows that walter is acknowledging how hardworking George is indirectly by trying to mock him by saying he’s a little boy. The pause invoked by a “-” creates a sense of anticipation in the audience wanting to know what he will say. This pause shows that walter is taking a little bit of time to gather his ideas to not make himself acknowledge George and intern to formulate his sentence into a mockery of george. Another example is “ And you ̶ ain’t you bitter, man? Ain’t you just about had it yet? Don’t you see no stars gleaming that you can’t reach out and grab? You happy? ̶ you contented son-of-a-bitch ̶ you happy? You got it made? Bitter? Man, I’m a volcano. Bitter? Here I am a giant ̶ surrounded by ants! Ants who can’t even understand what it is the giant is talking about.”This example shows a lot of emotions exploding out of Walter. By using – and ? he is asking his family and George in addition to the audience to think of where they are right now and how they feel and by saying this everyone understands that he is asking himself these questions to and he is trying to keep himself from exploding and collapsing from all the anger and sadness he has in him. He is using a metaphor to describe himself. He says that he’s like a volcano and a giant. He also compares people around him as ants. This illustrated a deep image and illustrates what he sees and how he perceives the world. He is trying to say that nobody understands him and that nobody wants to try to understand. This in turn creates a sensation of pity and sadness toward him.
In addition, hansberry uses the stage directions to accentuate Walter’s emotions and shows the increase and bubbling up of his emotions. The first example of this is when walter starts to talk to George “[an irritable mimic] (…)[He finds a beer in the refrigerator, wanders over to GEORGE, sipping and wiping his lips with the back of his hand and straddling a chair backwards to talk to the other man.] (…)[Tapping his head and half winking for emphasis.]” This shows that Walter doesn’t like George and feels a grudge toward him. In the first stage direction walter mimics ruth to mock her and to mock geogre too. This shows that he likes to make fun of people and that he is not very nice. The second stage direction shows how selfish he is. He only got a beer for himself and didn’t propose to george if he wanted one. The action of straddling a chair is very important. Hansberry uses the word straddling to emphasis the way he does it. This shows that he didn’t do it lightly nor elegantly. This word creates a sense of hostility towards George and a feeling of dominance. Another example is “[intently, almost quietly, between the teeth, glaring at the boy]: ” This shows that Walter is trying to hold in his emotions. He isn’t able to do this and explodes releasing all his feeling. George has pushed him to the limit. This is shown when walter glares at George. The word Glaring show how violently he looks at him. He is looking at George with a very angry and frustrated look wanting everything George has. His money and his perfect life and wants to be acknowledged like him and listened to. Lastly, in the end Walter shouts “[violently]: No! ’Cause ain’t nobody with me! Not even my own mother” This illustrated his out cry for attention. The stage direction “violently” shows how angry he is and how done with everything he feels. He uses exclamation marchs to emphasis this reaction and his feeling of being nothing but just a useless child. He feels sad and feels that nobody cares about him.
Hansberry ,last but not least, uses diction of dreams to illustrate his frustration with them. An example of this is when walter starts talking about his dreams to George “. I mean he thinks big, you know what I mean, I mean for a home, you know? But I think he’s kind of running out of ideas now.(…). Listen, man, I got some plans that could turn this city upside down. I mean I think like he does. Big. Invest big, gamble big, hell, lose big if you have to, you know what I mean. It’s hard to find a man on this whole Southside who understands my kind of thinking ̶ you dig? ” This shows that walter is trying to make his life better with the ideas he has and is trying to make connections to get money to make his dream come true. His dream is to get the american dream the dream that everyone wants. To be rich to have a big house to have a big car. He uses adjectives like big, hard, and the phrase “turn this city upside down” to emphasis on how immence his ideas are and how amazing he thinks they are. Hansberry uses diction of dreams to show how much Walter want to accomplish this dream of his and to show his determination. He also states that it’s hard to find a man on this whole southside who understands him. This illustrated that he hasn’t found people that believe in him and hasn’t found people that trust him or listen to his big ideas. An other example of diction of dreams is when Walter is frustrated and starts to mock and make fun of Ruth’s dream and George’s too “ I know ain’t nothing in this world as busy as you coloured college boys with your fraternity pins and white shoes…(…)with the books tucked under your arms ̶ going to your ̶ [He mimics the British ‘a’.] ‘clahsses’. And for what? What the hell you learning over there? Filling up your heads ̶ [counting off on his fingers.] ̶ with the sociology and the psychology”. This shows that walter is jealous of not having an education and doesn’t believe in Ruth’s dream of becoming a doctor. He feels frustrated because he knows that Ruth is accomplishing her dream and getting closer while he isn’t getting even and inch closer. He is wondering what they learn and do in college and this shows that deep inside him he wants to attend college to. Deep inside his dream is also to be educated and to learn. He is discrediting both Ruths and George’s dreams to make himself feel more powerful and dominant. In this example of diction of dreams, the dreams of others are used to push down people and make Walter feel big and more important. Another striking example is “ But they teaching you how to be a man? How to take over and run the world? They teaching you how to run a rubber plantation or a steel mill?” This example shows that he insulting George of not being a man but deep inside Walter himself isn’t a man and he feels like a complete failure. He has sacrificed many things to help Ruth go to school and he doesn’t understand why she nor George goes to school if it isnt to learn about making money or becoming a man. He doesn’t see the use in going to school and this shows that he is uneducated and doesn’t understand its importance. He uses question marks to over welm George and make it difficult for him to respond making Walter more dominant. He is asking these questions because he himself want to learn those things. Ruths and George’s dream of being educated and getting a diploma bothers Walter.
In conclusion, Hansberry shows Walters deep emotions by using punctuation, stage directions, and diction of dreams. Hansberry wants to express Walters emotions to create a deeper bond between audience and character. The audience can feel pity, sadness, anger, and fustration through Walter in Act 2 Scene 1. Walter in a way helps the audience release the emotions they have too and through Walters questions the audience and ask themselves and find out if this is the life they want.
In Lorraine Hansberry’s play, A raisin in the sun, hansberry uses punctuation, repetition and rhetorical questions to illustrate Walter’s overwhelming anger, stage directions to show all the non-verbal language and metaphors to truly explain Walter Lee’s state of mind. Through this scene, Hansberry makes a direct link to the Langston Hugues poem at the beginning of the book and more specifically to the line “Or does it explode?” that here we can assimilate to Walter that needs to tell what he has been holding for so long and truly explodes towards this assimilationist who seems to consider himself above this fight.
First, punctuation, repetition and rhetorical questions demonstrate Walter’s strong resentment and the violence he puts in his speech. Hansberry uses a lot of rhetorical questions and directly attacks George by always implying him into his speech. Walter starts with a simple rhetorical question and then makes a kind of development through his questions. It is also noticeable through the punctuation and the numerous questions marks, which seems unstoppable, the pression he is putting on Georges through his speech : “And for what? What the hell you learning over there? Filling up your heads ̶ [counting off on his fingers.] ̶ with the sociology and the psychology. But they teaching you how to be a man? How to take over and run the world? They teaching you how to run 35 a rubber plantation or a steel mill?”. It practically seems like leading question but the interlocutor, in this case George, is unable to reply because Walter cannot stop, he needs to tell what he has been holding for so long. Walter also uses repetition and insists on the words “big” when talking about Georges business, and throughout his speech he uses a lot “I” and practically starts every statement with it. He also repeats himself a lot when he goes from a question to another. Here he expresses his state of mind and needs to rely a lot on “I” to make everyone understand his vision of the world. “But I think he’s kind of running out of ideas now. I’d like to talk to him. Listen, man, I got some plans that could turn this city upside down. I mean I think like he does.” This repetition is important and point out what is important in his opinions. Through this first, we could see the anger Walter has and how attacks George by using his point of view.
Second, the stage directions illustrate the characters state of mind. Firstly, throughout the stage direction it is noticeable that George thinks he is above this argument. For example, in the following example we can see how he doesn’t truly answers to Walter and just pretends “[with boredom]: Yeah ̶ sometimes we’ll have to do that, Walter.”. With this indication “with boredom” we can see George’s hypocrisy and how useless Walter speech is because he does not listen to him and does not care either. Secondly, Ruth’s state of mind is also shown with “[covering her face with humiliation]: Oh, Walter Lee ̶” she is embarrassed by the situation because she knows he is not listening to him and does not care. She truly thinks it is unnecessary. And finally we have Walter, exploding. “violently]: No! ’Cause ain’t nobody with me! Not even my own mother!”. The word “violently” perfectly shows his state and how rage is destroying him and how it makes him really violently and awfully toward their guest. It could also be because of George’s way of acting and how he thinks he is just a jealous ignorant. During this paragraph, we have seen how the author indicates the characters state of mind through the stage direction.
Finally, the metaphors Walter uses illustrate how as a coloured people he feels in his own family and in society. He also expresses his resentment and all the negative feelings he has been holding for too long. “Man, I’m a volcano. Bitter? Here I am a giant ̶ surrounded by ants! Ants who can’t even understand what it is the giant is talking about.” Here, he expresses, how he feels through metaphors. Just like a volcano, he explodes. Then he compares himself to a giant and the others to ants highlighting his loneliness and how he is unable to understand the others, how he feels different, how he feels rejected by the entire society. He feels unable to talk with the others and his only way to do it is to explode. Throughout this metaphor we can see Walter is alone and needs to express himself by exploding.
To conclude, Hansberry by using punctuation, repetition, rhetorical questions, stage directions and metaphor is able to show the public more than a simple fight. Here, the playwright insists on the pressure Walter is putting on George and how it doesn’t work because he thinks he is above this and how they all feel about it but also, how Walter feels and why needs to do this. Walter has to express himself, he has to explode because he feels like nobody understands him. Walter is truly alone and is unable to hold any longer what he has been expressing for years.
In Lorraine Hansberry’s play, A Raisin in the Sun, Hansberry uses rhetorical questions, an excessive use of punctuation, and metaphors (one in particular) to create a feeling of distaste for Walter and his overwhelming tension.
Hansberry uses these rhetorical questions in Walter’s lines especially, and this is done to show Walter’s frustration at for the lack respect he desires from the world. He is angry, he has been for quite some time, and in this passage he is taking it out on George. Here he says “No, he don’t! Excuse me for what? What you always excusing me for!” Walter here is rude to George, and his wife, Ruth, sensing what walter is about to do, decides to step in. This is to show the reader that Walter has been this way for long enough that his family members try to soothe him. Another example,is when Walter is attempting to ridiculise George: “I see I see you all all the time ̶ with the books tucked under your arms going to your [He mimics the British ‘a’.] ‘clahsses’. And for what? What the hell you learning over there?” This is one of Walter’s biggest moments in which he is very bitter. His anger and his frustration is overflowing. This passage is here to reference the volcano from the original poem by Langston Hughes. Walter actually mentions this very openly in this next example: “you contented son-of-a-bitch you happy? You got it made? Bitter? Man, I’m a volcano. Bitter?” This is a great example due to the fact that it references this poem from which this play’s name came from. Volcanoes tend to erupt from time to time, and this is what Walter has done. This is actually also a great example of metaphors, which is covered later on in this essay. Walter’s questions are not leading. They are however meant to be hurtful, as Walter is trying to get the message across to George that he is not welcome. Walter’s tension is repetitive in this play, and the reader, is getting quite tired of it at this point.
Lorraine Hansberry uses a lot of punctuation, an excessive amount, and this is done to create this image of Walter falling over his own words. Walter is not thinking anymore, and he is saying the things that come to mind without any real thought. As seen previously in this essay Walter uses many question mark for rhetorical (almost sarcastic) questions. He also uses many exclamation marks: “Oh, Walter! Oh, Walter! [to GEORGE]: How’s your old man making out?” Walter here is trying to be rude on purpose. He is making out as if feeling different emotions, with questions and affirmations. But he is clearly struggling with his emotions. And George and Ruth know this too. There is a paragraph where this is illustrated very well. This is from line 31 to line 37: “I see you all all the time – with […] your arms – going to your – ‘clahsses’. […] your heads – (counting off on his fingers) – with the […]” Walter here is stumbling over each of his words, as if he could not say them all. As if they were overflowing out from him. This passage is ambiguous, and in a way that it shows Walter’s emotions, flitting from thing to thing. Walter is starting to become disliked by the readers / public because of his repetitive whining, and overreactions over things that shouldn’t annoy him, if he was a “man”.
Finally, Hansberry uses metaphors, to illustrate Walter’s state of mind. He is after all, in this scene the most openly angry he’s been so far. Walter’s first metaphor is of himself: “Bitter? Man, I’m a volcano. Bitter?” This is a reference to Langston Hughes’ poem: Harlem. In this poem, he wonders what would happen to a raisin if it were left in the sun for a while. One of his speculations is that it would explode. During the play we realise that each of the characters could be appointed a role from his “speculations”. Walter says he is a volcano, and volcanoes erupt, creating explosions. He is in fact exploding in this scene. The debris is his anger, washing off of him in waves against the whole world around him. If we look even further into this this could even be interpreted as Walter’s acknowledgement of this prolonged metaphor. He is in fact aware that he is “exploding”. This is why this metaphor is so interesting. With its ambiguous meaning, it can be understood in many different ways. The second example is just after this first one: “[…] Bitter? Here I am a giant – surrounded by ants!” Walter here is giving away his vision of himself to us. He believes himself better that those who bring him down, and tells George this to make him understand that he is one of those people. This metaphor is also creating this image of Walter’s ambitions compared to others. His are giant, and others’ are puny. This is his personal opinion, and by bringing himself up, he is insulting the rest of the people, not just George, around him. This is distasteful, and Walter has, in a way, gone too far.
To conclude, Lorraine Hansberry has succeeded in making us experience a feeling of distaste towards Walter because of his repetitive and overwhelming tension. Lorraine Hansberry has done this with the help of multiple language techniques, such as metaphors, punctuation and rhetorical questions. Walter is always talking of his dreams, and here he is complaining from the lack of help from the others, and his overreaction is what makes us feel annoyed with him.
1st Topic: What does Hansberry’s writing make you feel about Walter at this moment in the play?
A Raisin in the Sun is a play about Walter Lee Younger and his family who live in a small apartment in Chicago and chase after their dreams, written by Lorraine Hansberry.
In her play A Raisin in the Sun , Lorraine Hansberry uses metaphors, rhetorical questions, vulgar language and diction of anger to illustrate how Walter feels angry, betrayed, out of hope, and under pressure and jealous because of the trouble he is having to reach his dreams.
First, Hansberry uses metaphors to demonstrate how Walter is angry. Walter says « I’m a volcano. », which takes us to the very beginning of the book where we can find a poem about a dream exploding, and this extract could be seen as Walter blowing up after being let down too many times. In addition to this, Walter talks about having great ideas and being ignored: “Here I am a giant — surrounded by ants! Ants who can’t even understand what the giant is talking about!”. This shows how he feels about his dreams being ignored, he thinks that everyone is treating his dreams like fantasies, which makes him rightfully angry. Then, there is a repetition of the word “Bitter”, a word that Walter proceeds to correct saying “Man, I’m a volcano.”, proving his anger, and showing that he knows he is angry. He is conscious that he is angry.
Secondly, Hansberry uses rhetorical questions to show the fact that Walter feels ultimately betrayed, and out of hope. With the question “Don’t you see no stars gleaming that you can’t reach out and grab?”, Hansberry clearly shows that Walter had hope, and has lost it with the explosion. He feels like his hope of ever being rich is never going to give him anything, and so, during this explosion of his, he ends up letting go of that hope. In another rhetorical question, Walter criticises the fact that George has an education and he doesn’t: “I see you all the time […] going to your “clahsses”. And for what? What the hell you learning over there?”. Hansberry clearly demonstrates that Walter is jealous and betrayed by the fact that he could not get the same type of education or, less precisely, the same type of life. Ruth asks a rhetorical question saying “Ain’t you with nobody?”, yet Walter answers “No! ’Cause ain’t nobody with me! Not even my own mother!”. Walter once again feels excluded and betrayed by everyone in the family for not showing him any support, and he feels especially let down by Mama, who was supposed to be the first one in line to support him.
Lastly, Hansberry uses diction of anger and vulgar diction to illustrate how Walter is under pressure and jealous, especially of George. He says that George is a “contented son-of-a-bitch” and that he is wearing “fagotty-looking white shoes”. Walter is incredibly bitter that George is eased and has next-to-no problems in life. Hansberry uses diction of anger to reinforce the previously made statement, with words such as “volcano”, “bitterly”, and “violently”. She explicitly points out the fact that Walter is jealous of people who do not struggle, and he is angry at them, keeping in mind that anger is a form of jealousy.
To conclude, Hansberry uses metaphors, rhetorical questions, vulgar language and diction of anger to illustrate how Walter feels not only angry, but also jealous, left aside, ignored, and like his dreams are being stepped on, and almost mocked by the rest of the Youngers and George. Achieving dreams is a major theme in this play, and here, dreams are what fuel everything, including emotions and the future.