How is Beneatha different from Lorraine Hansberry, her creator, using  any of the two critics, biographical criticism, historical criticism, or psychological criticism?

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lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Beneatha is different from Lorraine Hansberry, her creator. Beneatha lives in a small apartment. She struggles along with the rest of her family. Beneatha lives in poverty. While she is driven by her desire to be treated as an equal in every way, Beneatha has reserves about moving into an all-white neighborhood. She realizes that she and her family will have trouble in getting the white community to accept a black family into their all-white neighborhood. 

While Lorraine Hansberry did experience difficulties when her family moved into an all-white neighborhood, Hansberry did not live in utter poverty. Hansberry's father and mother had good jobs. Her father was  into real estate, and her mother was a teacher. Hansberry did not experience the lifestyle that Beneatha did. Hansberry had opportunities to go to college. She had family support. Her family was in an elite class financially.

Beneatha desires to live in a world where she can pursue her dreams. She is determined to be a doctor. Even though her brother Walter thinks this is a ridiculous notion, Beneatha has made up her mind to study medicine. To pursue a career in medicine was a far-fetched idea for Beneatha. She had two difficulties to overcome. She was black and she was a woman. In this time period, it was not realistic to dream of pursuing a career in medicine. Women, especially black women, did not have the equalities that they have today.

No doubt, Hansberry could relate to Beneatha. Hansberry desired to write. Although her family had the means for her to attend college, she was still a black woman. America was filled with racism. Although Hansberry was nearing death during the Civil Rights Movement, she contributed to the Movement with her literary writings. A Raisin in the Sun definitely changed some attitudes in America. Sadly, Hansberry died of cancer in January 1965.  

While Hansberry had a dream of her own to become a writer, Beneatha aspired to be a doctor. Beneatha had set her goals and she was determined to reach her goals. She refused to marry George even though he had money. Beneatha had higher standards for herself as a woman. She did not see the need to marry someone who would not make her happy.

Hansberry married, but later divorced. One could speculate that she did not really weigh out her decisions as Beneatha would have. Also, Hansberry was not as involved in her academic achievements. Beneatha was a scholar by nature. 

Hansberry's father and mother were actively involved in politics. Her father ran for congress. Her mother was  interested in politics as well. This would be a difference in Hansberry's life and Beneatha's life. Beneatha was more interested in her African culture. She was even interested in moving to Africa to work as a doctor.   

No doubt, Hansberry learned to admire her classmates who had to struggle to make ends meet. For this reason, Hansberry decided to introduce the conflicts and struggles of a black family who just wanted to see their dreams come true.

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A Raisin in the Sun

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