How is Mr. Lindner from Clybourne Park significant as a minor character in Lorraine Hansberry's play A Raisin in the Sun?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Karl Lindner may be a minor character in Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” but his brief scene is integral to the play’s theme.  In Act II, Scene III, the character of Lindner is a weak, timid Caucasian sent by the local homeowner’s association where the Younger family plans to move to try and convince the African-American family to not relocate there.  As the leader of the Clybourne Park Improvement Association, Lindner is given the responsibility for bribing Walter, Ruth, Beneatha and Mama to sale their newly-purchased property in the lower-middle-class and entirely white community – a particularly ironic tasking given that he is also chairman of the “New Neighbors Orientation Committee,” which welcomes new families or, as a visibly uncomfortable Lindner explains to the Youngers while sitting in their living room:

“Well – it’s what you might call a sort of welcoming committee, I guess.  I mean they, we – I’m the chairman of the committee – go around and see the new people who move into the neighborhood and sort of give them the lowdown on the way we do things out in Clybourne Park.”

As Lindner continues to timidly explain the purpose of his visit, he repeatedly refers to the Youngers as “you people” in such a way that he is clearly categorizing them in a negative manner.  As he gradually gets to the point of the meeting, it becomes increasingly clear to Walter and his family that Lindner is here to discourage them from moving to Clybourne Park.  As Lindner proceeds to make his point, he hints at possible problems should the Youngers proceed with their plans:

“I am sure you people must be aware of the some of the incidents which have happened in various part so the city when colored people have moved into certain areas . . .”

As he continues in this vein, Lindner inches closer to the bottom line:

“. . . at the moment the overwhelming majority of our people out there feel that people get along better, take more of a common interest in the community, when they share a common background. . .It is a matter of the people of Clybourne Park believing, rightly or wrongly, as I say, that for the happiness of all concerned that our Negro families are happier when they live in their own communities.”

Karl Lindner is a minor character in “A Raisin in the Sun.”  What he represents, however, is the enormity of the weight on Walter’s shoulders as he desperately tries to improve his family’s lot.

zumba96 | Student

He is a white man who comes to visit the family when the house in the white neighborhood is bought. He relates that people may end up causing hurt to the family. When he talks to them he says "you people" a lot which makes the reader seem as if he is being a racist yet trying not to be too obvious. Walter has none of this and throws him out both times with the full support of the family. He is important because he showcases the racism found within that time and the impact it had on colored families. 

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A Raisin in the Sun

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