The theme of gender roles plays a vital position in the play A Raising in the Sun. The period that saw the writing of A Raising in the Sun was during the time that societal roles were set in place and defined with difference in genders. The women roles were maintaining a house hold, playing obedience and support for their husbands who were the head of the family (Hansberry, 2014). A Raising in the Sun shows a window into the world where the gender roles are not much different from these assumed roles but with a twist to them. Gender relations in this book play an important part in creating and defining the characters, establishing the time period and way of life, and presenting the clash between culture and modernity.
The writer Lorraine Hansberry depicts a society amidst change and the massive changes in gender relations. The characters based on ethics and value show a clear split in their way of thinking. There is an age gap between Mama and Beneatha that identifies the change in gender roles thereby establishing these characters’ identities (Timko, 2021). Mama and Ruth still believe in the stereotypical view of what the role of women should be while Beneatha does not agree with this opinion. Beneatha rejects this opinion and opposes the role of women such as watching children or cleaning the house to pursue the career of a doctor.
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In this time at history the role of the head of the house was assumed to be held by the man. He was supposed to provide money, food and protection over everyone. Walter who has this role however, has not had a chance to prove his position and voice (LAPASI, 2014). He feels angered and disappointed after Ruth fails to support his business ventures. He tells her “I got to hold of this here world. Baby!” this statement illustrates Walters desire to fend for his family while still needing the support of them (Hanberry, 2014). However, without his change in the perceptions about gender roles it is difficult for him to gain full support from the family.
Feminism is strongly illustrated in the play. When Mama received the check from the late husband, she buys a house for the family without informing anyone. However, Walter having assumed the role of the head of the family assumes that he should be in knowledge of everything that happens (Hansberry, 2014). He particularly wanted to put the money in a liquor store. Mama’s decision on buying the house points out that the era for change has arrived where women need to be empowered to break free from stereotypes about the position of females and gender roles and men need to understand the importance of it.
On feminism Hansberry shows the women’s will top become strong and independent. Beneatha undergoes struggles for her to attain he own goals without influence from societies and family entangled with the old ideas of gender roles (LAPASI, 2014). Even her potential suitors try to impact her mentality on her position as a woman by convincing her to be more conversant with her African culture. However, she refuses to adhere to this conditions and proves that women want more than just being subjects to men and sitting down and looking pretty (Timko, 2021).
The play A Raising in the Sun promotes the rights of women from stereotypical house wives to levels of equality with men. Through the voices of the characters, Hansberry explains the significance of gender expectations by the society and the impediment of changing toward gender equality from individuals, race and age (Hansberry, 2014). The play is significant in showcasing how change is sometimes impossible and hard for some people to embrace.
- Hansberry, L. (2014). A Raisin in the Sun. In African American Scenebook (pp. 57-62). Routledge.
- LAPASI, L. (2014). Gender Roles in A Raisin in the Sun. Skripsi, 1(321409153).
- Timko, M. A. (2021). A Raisin in the Sun as feminist text: racialised gender roles, female agency and representation across mediums.