A Rasin in the Sun
Essay title: A Rasin in the Sun
“The Quiet Before The Storm”
Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” was on the forefront for changes in gender and racial roles in the mid twentieth century. This position is illustrated through examples of how society has changed their expectations of each gender. In addition, society today looks more at gender than racial relations do than generations in the past did.
Things were not so simple for women in the middle of the twentieth century than they are today. For example, abortion was illegal during that time. Television audiences today see more gender differences than racial differences in the characters they see. All of these changing characteristics have a lot to do with one play, “A Raisin in the Sun.”
Gender roles from the mid twentieth century to the new millennia have changed drastically. The levels of expectations of each gender are different than they were, but eerily they are the same in the kind of expectations that society mandated each gender. For example, women today are still expected to keep the family together and to do most of the household chores.
Society in the twentieth century expected many different things of women than they do now. Unlike women today, women of yester-years did not have the chance to just date men. The contraceptive pill was not offered to most of the public at that time. If they wanted to have sexual relations, they must have gotten married (Groassbard-Shechtman & Heer 49). This is because the chance of pregnancy was a big gamble that most women had to take when considering to have intercourse.
Since the female gender was in a compromising position of marriage, they were more submissive to the male gender that women are now. The thought of having an illegitimate child was not condoned by society. In addition, women were expected to raise the children, and be very dependent on the husband for monetary purposes (Groassbard-Shechtman & Heer 51).
Society also disapproved of abortion. In the middle of the twentieth century, when the liberation movement was starting, abortion was illegal. This situation brings up the point of why Hansberry put abortion into her play. Ruth, Walter Lee’s wife in the play, decides to have an abortion even though she is married. Even abortion by a married woman today is considered with abhorrence by some. Nevertheless, back when it was illegal for anyone to get an abortion, a married woman that had one was considered to step beyond her line that her gender outlines.
Within the issue of abortion, a sub issue emerges. Some women decide to have an abortion because they do not want to burden their family anymore. This is the case of Ruth Younger; she was so desperate to have happiness and tranquility in her life that she took her own child’s life.
Ruth’s abortion in “A Raisin in the Sun” also brings the point up of the women’s liberation movement. The earlier of feminism 1960-1980 “was influenced by civil rights and other movements for racial equality” (Visweswaran 606). However, the latter period of feminism, 1980-1996, focuses on the split between sexuality and gender (Visweswaran 606).
“The social idealism born in the 1960s finally is becoming a reality in the 1990s.” (Renner 45). “Raisin in the Sun” unquestionably has social idealism as a subplot. Beneatha, a driving force in the play, symbolizes changes in the future. She is studying to become a doctor, almost unheard of for an African-American woman in the early 1960s. In addition, she is in her early twenties and is not married. These characteristics of Beneatha were considered abnormal for a woman in that time.
The social idealism that this play and other vehicles of society sought is what we consider normal today. The expectations and realism that women face in society today are much different than they were fifty years ago.
As liberated women of the modern world today, we can choose to work outside the home, have premarital sex, go to college without ridicule, and be independent of the male sex. Because of the contraceptive pill, women are choosing to finish college and start careers before they get married (Groassbard-Shechtman & Heer 54).
In the mid twentieth century, females were considered a minority in the academia world. Today, actually some aspects of the college campus are controlled by women. For example, women control the majority of the pharmacy profession. However, some roles are still the same. Women are still expected to take care of the house and children, and be the peacekeeper of the home.
Not only have women’s roles in society changed in the past forty years, to some extent men’s roles have changed to. Because of the more independent nature of women today, men are not forced to be the breadwinners of the household as they once were.