Examine how Hansberry is challenging stereotypes of African Americans in the play.

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

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Hansberry challenges the stereotype that is associated with her subject matter in a couple of ways.  The first way is that she shows the Younger family as challenged by the issues of class and gender, as much as race.  Normally, the stereotype would suggest that race is the only dominant issue.  Hansberry presents such a fleshed out portrait of the family because she examines how different social conditions converge in order to define the family's identity.  Another way in which the family resists being stereotyped lies in their confronting issues and finding success from them.  Hansberry does not show a family that capitulates to the conditions around them or fragments in the face of challenge and adversity.  Walter does discover what constitutes truth and true values and while there will be struggle, the ending indicates that the family will face it together.  This avoids the stereotype that shows a family of color withering under the pressure, capitulating to what is as opposed to what can be.  Finally, Hansberry avoids the stereotype because she enables her characters to be complex and possess dimensions to them.  Each character in the drama is complex, each member of the family unique.  This prevents falling into any stereotype because the intricacy of the characters precludes any real prediction or judgement as to what will happen to form.


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