Abstract illustration of the houses of Clybourne Park

A Raisin in the Sun

by Lorraine Hansberry

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How do A Raisin in the Sun and The Secret Life of Bees relate to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s quote about personal measure in times of challenge?

"The ultimate measure of a person is not where he/she stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he/she stands at times of challenge."

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The quote relates to both works because the characters in each endure challenges in understanding both their own senses of self and the social orders in which they are immersed.  In both works, characters are pitted in predicaments where there is a struggle to understand the implications of how the existing challenges of race and personal identity.  At the same time, both plays depict characters that question how the existing social orders view the issue of race and racial identity.  In the end, the measure of character and conviction to beliefs are only able to be facilitated through the difficult times that the characters in both works have to endure.

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Both the play A Raisin in the Sun and the novel The Secret Life of Bees relate to the quotation by Martin Luther King, Jr. in the development of major characters in the stories.  In A Raisin in the Sun, Mama buys a house in a white neighborhood because she thinks that it will be comfortable for her family.  She and her family know that they will have a difficult time melding into the culture of the new community and that they will likely experience discrimination while they are there.  However, Mama insists that they all move, believing that they are all strong enough to deal with any hardship.  Through this decision, Mama shows her inner strength and determination. 

Similarly, in The Secret Life of Bees, Lily ends up living with the Boatwrights because she is having trouble living with her father.  While at the Boatwrights' home and out of her own element, Lily begins to learn about people and relationships, particularly after May's suicide.  As the family grieves, Lily decides to use May's wall as a place of redemption and prayer.  So, she shows her character through this challenging time.

So both stories exhibit characters who "shine" during their most challenging moments.

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