Think about how the scene that opens Act II influences Walter and Beneatha about their heritage in A Raisin in the Sun.

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

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The issue of heritage and identity is something present in the second act's opening scene.  Beneatha is exploring a new construct to her freedom in the discovery of her identity.  The dress, music, her dancing, and the Afro are all aspects of her ethnic composition of self that she is able to access using her freedom, something that will loom large in the full scope of the play.  In terms of Walter's reaction to the presence of African identity, the implications are bit more complex.  His exaggerated and uncontrolled reactions are a reflection about his own sense of confusion regarding his identity and how he sees himself.  Walter struggles with this, battles through it intensely, and in the end, must make peace with who he is as a family man.  The scene that opens Act II reflects how far Walter has to come in order to find contentment and a sense of peace.  While Walter might not fully ever embrace his ethnicity and origins, he can embrace his own sense of self as a father, husband, and son.  The reaction to his heritage and the intensity of emotions fueled by alcohol are a reflection of the distance he must travel to find peace, something that is evident at the end of the drama.

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