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A Raisin in the Sun

by Lorraine Hansberry

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Compare and contrast Joseph Asagai with George Murchison in A Raisin in the Sun.

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George and Joseph are similar in that they are both intelligent and romantically interested in Beneatha. In every other way, the two are complete opposites. George is pretentious and uses his knowledge to assert his (supposed) superiority over others, whereas Joseph, who is also intelligent, is genuine and puts those around him at ease. George loses himself in his assimilation to white American culture, whereas Joseph is in touch with and takes pride in his Nigerian roots.

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In Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, Beneatha is romantically pursued by two very different men: George Murchison and Joseph Asagai.

George is well-to-do and educated but also arrogant and pedantic. He constantly feels the need to show off his knowledge, even in the presence of people...

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he knows will not be able to understand his references. One such example of this is his pretentious response toRuth asking what time the show he is taking Beneatha to see begins. Instead of simply responding with the time the play starts, he says, "It's an eight-thirty curtain" and then goes on to discuss the differences between "curtain times" in Chicago and New York. He is unable to pass up the opportunity to showcase his knowledge, and he looks down on other Black people, including Beneatha and her family. He does not fit in well with the Youngers because of his pompous behavior and style of dress. He constantly tries to make the Youngers feel inferior to him to boost his own ego.

Joseph is the exact opposite of George. George assimilates to White American culture and is a self-loathing Black man, whereas Joseph is strongly connected to and proud of his Nigerian roots. Joseph has a peaceful demeanor, unlike the obnoxious George, and is able to have open-minded, meaningful conversations and debates with others. He does not share George's affected behavior and does not feel the need to belittle those around him. Although he is just as intelligent as George, Joseph is genuine and likeable and does not assault others with his knowledge. He brings Beneatha thoughtful gifts and encourages her to learn about and embrace her African heritage.

Despite their stark differences, George and Joseph share some traits. Both are highly intelligent. Both are romantically interested in Beneatha. Both try to change Beneatha, but in different ways and for different reasons. George wants Beneatha to adapt to white American culture, as he has done. Contrariwise, Joseph urges Beneatha to connect to her roots and heritage and be true to herself.

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Describe the differences between Asagai and George Murchinson in A Raisin in the Sun.

As was mentioned in the previous post, George Murchinson and Joseph Asagai come from opposite backgrounds and have drastically different personalities throughout the play. George Murchinson comes from a wealthy, established family and Beneatha considers him to be snobbish and superficial. George offends Beneatha because he finds it funny that she is going to school to be a doctor and criticizes her hairstyle before they go to the theater. Although Beneatha enjoys going on dates with George, she tells her mother that she can never take him seriously because he is shallow.

Unlike George, Joseph Asagai values traditional African culture and intellectually stimulates Beneatha. He encourages Beneatha to get in touch with her African roots and supports her independent personality. Beneatha is attracted to Joseph's lifestyle and creative nature. She is influenced by Joseph's spiritually enlightened, positive personality and even wears the African robe that he gives to her as a gift. Essentially, Joseph is George's foil throughout the play. Joseph symbolizes the African identity of African-Americans living in the United States, while George represents the African-Americans wanting to assimilate into American culture.

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Describe the differences between Asagai and George Murchinson in A Raisin in the Sun.

George Murchinson is a rich man. He and his family are quite snobbish because of their wealthy status. He is a college prep.

Beneatha states that the only thing worse than rich, white people is rich colored folk. Although Beneatha is dating George, she prefers Asagai. She only dates George to pass the time away. He does take her to the theater, and she enjoys that. When she comes out of her room dressed in African clothes, he makes fun. He says that they are going to the theater, not going to be in it. Beneatha resents his comments. That is why she prefers to be with Asagai.

Asagai is from Nigeria. He still has his Yoruba accent. He respects his homeland so much until he refuses to assimilate. He gives Beneatha clothes from Africa. He realizes that Beneatha is truly interested in her African roots. Asagai truly cares about Beneatha and he asks her to go with him to Africa.

Beneatha prefers to be with Asagai becasue he is down-to-earth. He does not keep up a facade. He is a real man who has sincere, genuine feelings for Beneatha and he is teaching her about his homeland.

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