“A Raisin in the Sun” is a play by Lorraine Hansberry that tells the story of an African American family’s confrontation with the mercantile manifestations of life. The characters live in a wretched apartment and strive for a better life, but at the same time, they try to maintain honor and dignity. The manner of Lorraine Hansberry is built on subtle psychological motives and the transfer of the characters’ inner world. Moreover, the author, without removing the issue of African American race in the play, displays them with all their cultural features. The aim of this paper is to analyze the article by Brooks Atkinson and the author’s view on the ideas of the play.
The degree of success of any work of literature depends on how successfully the author was able to convey his vision to a particular problem. In the article ‘A Raisin in the Sun’: Negro Drama Given at Ethel Barrymore, Brooks Atkinson states that the author covers a wide range of themes, both funny and sad (Atkinson 1). It formulates the main feature of this play; despite the lively and humorous style of narration, a serious topic is raised. Thus, the author plays a double game with the viewer, using a positive tone and humor, and hiding the sad moments between the lines.
This question interested me because authors who have various themes to write about usually cover a certain issue in detail, being able to convey the whole gamma of feelings of their characters. Indeed, as already noted, Hansberry’s specialty is subtle psychologism and the transfer of the characters’ emotions. It was this question, namely, about the wide range of the author, that interested me in Atkinson’s article. Besides, Brooks Atkinson mentioned that the play is honest, and that the author did not intend to prove something (Atkinson 1). It also became an exciting moment for me, as works with a strong self-stance represent the most value.
Speaking of personal experience with this question, I had no such a practice. With the help of a detailed description of the psychological state of the characters and a successful plot twist, Hansberry coped with the task of perceiving the heroes’ emotions. For example, the room in which the characters lived was described as “the furnishings of this room were actually selected with care and love and even hope” (Hansberry 26). Thus, one may notice confirmation of Atkinson’s hallmarks, namely, joy and sadness, in the play. On the one hand, the viewer perceives the situation in the room with humor since these details are familiar to one. On the other hand, taking into account the situation, the viewer experiences sadness associated with personal experiences.
In regard to whether this article makes me consider the play or the character in a new way, I can highlight several points. Firstly, it is worth noting that I reconsidered my attitude towards the play after Atkinson’s notion that the work was maximally honest. Indeed, some things are not noticeable before reading Atkinson’s article. Namely, how honestly and realistically the author of the play was able to display the life, culture, features of the characters, and the environment. In addition, such realism and honesty help the reader to plunge into the world displayed in the play and feel all the experiences.
I agree with the point made by Brooks Atkinson since the author’s opinion overlapped with my own experiences. Namely, the honesty of the play and the realistic depiction of the environment and character of the characters. As already indicated, it helped me to immerse myself in the world depicted in work and feel all the emotions for myself. This is what makes this play special and so successful and makes you want to watch it more than once. In addition, it is worth noting the effective idea and the main plot foundation of the play, namely the monetary inheritance and the desire of the characters to move. Monetary reward, especially if there is a significant sum of money, is an effective way to engage the viewer’s emotions and promote excitement. This effect is intensified when a poor family has a large amount of money, as the middle class subconsciously projects this onto itself.
Atkinson, Brooks. “’A Raisin in the Sun’: Negro Drama Given at Ethel Barrymore”. New York Times, 1959.
Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. Random House Publishing Group, 1995