Compare and contrast the character in the poem "Almost Ready" to Beneatha. How are their internal struggles or conflicts similar and different?

The speaker in the poem "Almost Ready" and Beneatha are both struggling with internal issues of identity. They are alike in wanting to have their outward identities in perfect order before they step out into life. However, they differ in that the character in "Almost Ready" wants to wear a metaphoric "mask" to hide him true self from others while Beneatha is trying to strip down to her authentic self.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Arnold Ardoff's poem "Almost Ready," a youthful narrator talks about going to a birthday party as a "cool and in control young dude"--but only "as soon as" he finds the rights clothes and the "right mask."

Beneatha and this speaker are similar in that they are struggling internally with their identities. Both are paralyzed by wanting to make sure they have themselves in perfect order before they step out, be it to a party or into life.

As Asagai says to Beneatha, she wants her life to be in perfect order in just the way she has decided it should be. Chiefly, she has a strong desire to go to medical school, rather than abandon that to marry Asagai and follow him to Africa (where she could still do medical work). Likewise, the speaker in "Almost Ready" is hesitating about going to party because he doesn't have himself attired to project the perfect image. Both are at risk of missing what life has to offer because they are hesitating.

The poet's attitude toward the "dude" is tongue-in-cheek, while Hansberry takes a serious attitude toward Beneatha and her life choices. A difference between the two characters is that Beneatha's decisions do carry more weight than going to a party. More significantly, Beneatha is not trying to put on a mask but find her authentic identity. The clothing and pose of the young man in the poem is a defense against his insecurities, while Beneatha's adopting of an Afro and considering moving to Africa is an attempt to strip down her defenses and be who she really is.

Posted on

Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial