How is the name Beneatha symbolic to her character?

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

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The name "Beneatha" can be symbolic of a couple of realities.  The first would be that within the construction of being "beneath," Beneatha represents much in way of how there is more than surface to her characterization.  She is more than what a traditional woman of color would be considered at the time period.  The reality is that women of color in the time period were seen in different lights.  Beneatha understands this and "beneath" her exterior, she is driven to be more. There are desires to activate her freedom and her own sense of self that exist under her exterior.  She wishes to activate these subterranean ideas.  For Beneatha, possessing the freedom to enable these understandings of self is highly significant to her character.  At the same time, Beneatha feels that her identity is something that can only be understood through freedom, being able to free that which lies "beneath" becomes extremely important in this realm.  It is to this extent that I think that her name is essential in understanding her own sense of self and as reason why the name is symbolic of the character.

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