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In A Raisin in the Sun, how does the idea of assimilationism become important?

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dalamar | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted August 1, 2009 at 8:10 AM via web

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In A Raisin in the Sun, how does the idea of assimilationism become important?

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

Posted August 1, 2009 at 8:52 AM (Answer #1)

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The Younger family represents a family who believes in the power of dreams and the collective hope for success.  Both of these represent a sense of assimilationism, as they feed into the opportunity ideology present in the American Dream.  This ideology suggests that if an individual works hard and pushes themselves to the maximum limit, they will find success and their dreams will be fulfilled.  The Younger family's actions towards this end represents their embrace of assimilationism.  Where the play inverts this idea and prompts a level of critique is if this ideology is valid in a setting where social and cultural factors such as race and racial discrimination is present.  Can this dream be fully recognized in a setting where there is some level of barrier or hurdle present?  Certainly, the theme of assimilationism is brought into question with the notions put forth by Benetaha and Asagai, as well as Ruth and Walter.  The question being, whether or not assimilationism is a code word for sacrificing one's heritage in order to be successful?  Walter's speech to Lindner, in which we see a transformation from cynicism to identity also challenges this challenging assertion.  In the final analysis, the play suggests that there is a way to cling to dream and cling to a notion of self where both do not trade off with one another.  There is a way for individuals to assimilate without losing their identities.  There is a way for us to deal with the unfairness and horrific elements in the world, while tending to our gardens (such as Mama taking her plant), taking care of what we love the most.

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