Are the characters in A Raisin in the Sun stereotypes?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In my mind, a stereotype reduces complexity in characters.  It is a caricature, a way to represent someone without the intricacies and full layers to what it means to be human.  I don't think that the characters in Hansberry's work are stereotypes because they are shown to be round and fluid, individuals who endure a great deal of change and make critical decisions at pointed moments.  Walter is struggling, and like many other men of color, finds that the personal and private worlds he inhabits possess challenge.  Yet, when faced with the critical decision, he acts in the interests of family, rejects quick money, and stands up for the emotional bonds that connect him.  This would defy the stereotype.  Ruth does not have the abortion, defying the stereotype again, and recognizing that there is hope for the new child entering the world.  Mama Younger does not disappear from the family's decision making process, but rather invests in its future.  These are characters that are placed in stereotypically challenging situations.  However, their actions reveal unique individual responses to these contexts.

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