Discuss some of the social traditions that the Younger family seek to break.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that one of the most powerful elements of Hansberry's work is the idea that one family can take an active role in breaking the social conditions that might contain them.  The idea that Walter is unhappy with his current condition as a driver and desires some level of economic autonomy over his own life is a reflection of how he believes that he possesses power and does not have to capitulate to the life that is around him.  It is here where Walter is breaking through the idea that individuals of color cannot hold economic control of their own lives, something that was evident at the time of Hansberry's writing. Beneatha wants to crash through the social expectations that govern women and what they are "allowed" to do.  The fact that she uses her freedom and employs it so openly and in so many different formats is a reflection of this.  The ending of the play is another example of how social traditions are constructed and are sought to be broken.  The entrance of the Younger family into Clybourne Park helps to break through the idea that neighborhoods are fixed and defined into different areas and domains.  The Youngers' hopes to create and to live a better life for themselves and their family is something that animates them to smash the preconceived notions that both Blacks and Whites have about the "other."  In this, the Younger family become pioneers, a role they actively embrace at the end of the drama.

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