How does Wilson create the time period 1950s of the play with language & character? Could the play take place @ different time?What has changed over the past 50 yrs?
For once, the language used in the play denote the racial terminology used back when the civil rights movement had still not manifested in the voices of Martin Luther King, and other African American civil leaders. The use of the word Negro as a racial indicator, as well as the consistent separation of blacks and whites in sports, society, and everyday lives evokes the separatism that existed during that time and place.
The characters depict a controlling father who beats up his son, who rules over the house, who meets with other males with equal characteristics. Knowing how things are today, we know for sure that it would be very hard for a father to beat up a teenage son over a girlfriend without receiving a visit from Child Protective Services, or without having the teenager rebel in some way or form.
50 years ago you could argue that the family head had to be the man, and it was OK to vent the frustrations of the man in the rest of the family. Spousal and child abuse were not acceptable, but were common, and always kept secret. The woman and children were viewed as second class citizens, and all the pressures of financial and emotional and social expectations befell on men, whom were often quite hard to fulfill.
It would be hard to place the social problems of the 1950's in the year 2010 because the nuclear family is almost extinct, and the family roles have shifted through social changes in economics, education, and human rights. More protection is given to children through government agencies, women are dominating the financial world, and men do not have the same expectations of 60 years ago.
Yet, we do observe similar situations in a different way: There is still racism, if not as prevalent. There are economic problems caused by the top brass not letting the little man move up in the ladder. We still have dysfunctional families and many frustrated heads of household due to the economy.
You could argue that the problems that come as a result of social change will always continue, only depending on what is currently the social preoccupation.