What are some literary devices that American History and A Raisin in the Sun have in common?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One literary device that is shared in both works is their characterizations of women.   Skinny Bones is developed as a young woman of color in a time period where such voices were absent.  She is shown as a full and vibrant character whose hopes, fears, and despair are an essential part of understanding "American History." Her depiction is a realistic one that transcends social stereotypes.  In the same way, Hansberry depicts her female characters in full dimension.  Beneatha, Ruth, and Mama Younger all display the sensibilities that show hope, fear, and an embrace of the uncertain reality of the modern setting. They are not caricatures. Rather, they are fleshed out people, characterizations that reflect reality in a diverse and eclectic form. In both works, the literary device of female characterization is one that displays totality in its rendering, avoiding stereotypes in favor of what exists in reality.

Along these lines, the realistic condition of the historical setting in each work is important to its understanding.  For Skinny Bones, the promise and possibility of American society in the early 1960s is what gives animating spirit to her aspirations.  Even though she might be an outsider, she believes the socially progressive notion of American consciousness in the 1960s.  The despair she feels when the President is killed is reflective of the time period's malaise that followed that fateful day in Dallas.  Like so many in the nation, Skinny Bones sheds tears, unsure for what.  This historical aspect of the narrative's setting plays into its plot, as seen in its climax.  For Hansberry, the setting of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s has a direct impact on the drama's development.  The idea of the Younger family seeking a "better life' is a direct reflection of the drama's setting and historical context.  The challenges embedded within the Civil Rights Movement in terms of wanting to make things better for oneself, and yet struggling with the challenges of doing so are a part of the internal battle that the Younger family wages.  In this, one sees how the historical condition of the setting device in both works play a vital role in the narrative progression of each work.

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A Raisin in the Sun

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