Abstract illustration of the houses of Clybourne Park

A Raisin in the Sun

by Lorraine Hansberry
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What are the relationships between Beneatha and Asagai compared to Beneatha and George? Who does she want to be with more?

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In A Raisin in the Sun, Joseph and George Murchison can be seen as symbolic characters, each representing a different set of values and a different mode of identity. In choosing between these two men, Beneatha is choosing how she wants to identify herself, a choice and conflict central to her character in the play. This choice has at least two levels for Beneatha, the first being a choice between assimilation and Pan-Africanism. The second choice is between the culture and history of her family and the larger, impersonal (for her) history of Africa.

George represents a value set which places an emphasis on assimilation. He and his family have essentially adopted the values of white America, in Beneatha's view, and in this way strive to move up the economic ladder. The dignity of George Murchison is one defined by his relationship to other people of color. The dignity of Asagai is more absolute, based not on comparison but on pride. 

Asagai's identity as an African with a proud history, an independence, and a deep sense of honor is more appealing to Beneatha. However, in choosing this mode of identity Beneatha is choosing against her own past and the history of her family, its struggles and its truimphs. 


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