A Raisin in the Sun Questions and Answers
by Lorraine Hansberry

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Compare and contrast Mama and Beneatha from A Raisin in the Sun.

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Mama and Beneatha operate as foils in the play. Hansberry uses the characters to compare and contrast the difference in values between Mama's generation and Beneatha's. Mama's generation was that which migrated from the South to northern cities like Chicago, the setting of the play, in the early part of the twentieth-century. Beneatha's generation embraced Civil Rights, pan-Africanism, and later, would embrace Black Pride, which encouraged a singularly black aesthetic, as well as black nationalism.

Beneatha's generation had more access to education and opportunity than her mother's. This is exemplified not only by the erudite language that Beneatha uses, which befuddles her mother, but also by her experiments with different hobbies. For example, Beneatha announces that she will start guitar lessons, a pastime which makes no sense to either Mama or Ruth:

Mama: How come you done taken it in your mind to learn to play the guitar?

Beneatha: I just want to, that's all.

Mama: (Smiling)  Lord, child,...

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