Abstract illustration of the houses of Clybourne Park

A Raisin in the Sun

by Lorraine Hansberry

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Beneatha and Asagai. What cultural differences cause tension in their relationship? How does he prove he really cares for her?

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Joseph Asagai is a Nigerian student who argues against assimilation and embraces his African heritage. He tells Beneatha stories of his homeland and gives her traditional African garb as a present. Asagai is George Murchison's foil and does not subscribe to the American Dream or share the American cultural values that Beneatha admires. Asagai is a proponent of social justice and wishes to return to Nigeria, where he can make a difference and help improve the standard of living. Despite being attracted to Joseph Asagai and sharing many of his ideas, Beneatha is attached to her dream of one day becoming a doctor. She is attracted to the American Dream and wishes to enroll in college and earn a degree. When Joseph Asagai proves his love for Beneatha by asking her to move to Africa with him and start a new life, Beneatha does not make her final decision. Beneatha is indecisive and not ready to sacrifice her American Dream in order to fully embrace her African heritage. She is unable to dismiss American culture as a whole and is much more of an assimilationist than Joseph Asagai, who is an outspoken proponent of his Nigerian heritage. Her perspective and outlook on life differ from Asagai's view of the world, and her affinity for various aspects of American culture causes tension in their relationship. Unlike Asagai, Beneatha values money, status, and life in America, which is why she does not immediately accept his proposition to move to Africa with him.

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Although Beneatha is attempting to discover her roots, she still doesn't seem willing to take on an entirely new culture. She shows pride in her African roots by modeling the Nigerian robes given to her by Asagai and enjoying the native music she receives. However, when Beneatha feels like her dream of being a doctor is shattered because of Walter, she looks upon life as unfair. She feels that it's pointless to even try. Asagai shares with Beneatha the hardships he expects to endure in African and states that no one should give up a dream. When she continues to feel sorry for herself, Asagai tells her to stop moaning and groaning and do something about it. Benetha sees life as a circle where people go around and around and never reach their dreams. Asagai, on the other hand, sees life as a long line that reaches into infinity. He knows that in Africa there is poverty, illiteracy, and human suffering, but he also knows that he cannot stop dreaming and must challenge himself to make a difference in his culture. In essence, he appears to be saying that Americans are a bit spoiled and don't pursue their dreams when something gets in the way. Asagai knows that to make a change in Africa he must never give up his dreams and must keep doing all that he can to make a difference. Asagai proves that he truly cares for Beneatha when he asks her to marry him and return to Africa to pursue her dream of being a doctor.

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