Lorraine Hansberry grew up on Chicago’s South Side. She used this setting in her writing of “A Raisin in the Sun”. Lorraine Hansberry uses her life events in her writing because she had no one to talk to when she was little since all of her siblings were older. In her autobiography she says “the last born is an object toy”, from the “Young, Gifted and Black”, which basically means no one wanted anything to do with her. The theme she conveys in both her fictional writing and autobiography is love and racism. Racism is shown in her life because she had to deal with with being beat up at school and not feeling safe at home. People would throw things through their windows to try to hurt/scare them.In her writing, the Youngers have to face not being welcomed into a new “white” community.Love is definitely a major part and theme in both her writing and autobiography because of these hardships that were present in her childhood.The question appears, when is the right time to love someone.
There are a lot of connections between Lorraine Hansberry’s life and her writing. She faces hardships like when her hardworking father died. She incorporated his death into her writing. The Younger’s hardworking father died too, and he also tried to do what was best for his family. She also writes about how mama loves her kids when they need it the most, and her real mom shows them tough love and doesn’t share her feelings about love directly, but she still loves them and protects them from the harsh world in which they are living. When Lorraine Hansberry’s dad died, her mom and siblings comforted each other. This shows that they loved each other when they needed it, and not when they were at their highest point, but at their lowest point. In her writing, mama talks to Beneatha about loving people and family when they need it the most, not when they are fine.When they get treated poorly by racist people in her real life, Hansberry’s mother takes on the role as the protector, and guards her house and family from harm. In her writing, mamatakes on the the role as the head of the house and tries to protect and do what’s best for her family. Mama’s main role in the play is to show that they all need to support each other, and Lorraine Hansberry’s real mom doesn’t show a lot of love, but she shows support and affection.
The theme of both her life and writing is to know when the right time to love is. Some examples from the play are when the mama gave a speech to Beneatha about when to love someone. She told Beneatha that she should love Walter now, because he is going through a hard time in his life. Mama says, “It’s when he’s at his lowest and can’t believe in hisself’ cause the world done whipped him so!” (page 145). By this she means that when a person is in the deepest battle and doesn’t have any more to give, that is when that person needs the most support. In her autobiography, she says, “At his funeral I at last, in my memory, saw my mother hold her sons that way, and for the first time in her life my sister held me in her arms I think”. Lorraine Hansberry’s family loved each other when they were at their lowest point, just like in the play when mama says her love speech.
In the play, the Younger’s are faced with racism when Mr. Lindner comes and says, “Our association is prepared, through the collective effort of the people, to buy the house from you at a financial gain to your family” (page 118). This means that the “white community” that they are moving to doesn’t want them there and that they will do almost anything to not have them move into their neighborhood. This is when mama thinks people should love each other the most too, because they have to go through a hard time like this. In her autobiography, she says that her mother would stay up at night and guard her house from the racist people. In her autobiography she says, “And I also remember my desperate and courageous mother, patrolling our house all night with a loaded German Luger”. This is an example of loving when people need it the most too.
In the play and Lorraine Hansberry’s life, there are many connections. The theme of love and racism brings these two worlds together. In the play, mama is a very stern, passionate, and respected figure. She firmly believes in loving people in their time of need, not their time of greatness. In Lorraine Hansberry’s life, her mother is also a very passionate and respected figure. Her mother shows her love to her family when they are faced with obstacles such as racism and a family death. Lorraine Hansberry also used her dad to make connections between her writing and life. In the play, the Younger’s dad died, but they describe him as a very hardworking man that loved his family. She says in “To Be Young, Gifted and Black”, “Imagine in my mind is a man whom kings might have imitated and properly created their own flattering descriptions of.” She is saying that her father was a man that even a king would look up to. Lorraine Hansberry’s father died when they were young too, and he was also a hardworking man.
When is it the right time to love? According to Lorraine Hansberry’s writing and real life encounters, the right time to love is when they are in their darkest hour. She uses her family members in real life to create her storyline. Lorraine Hansberry also uses her writing to let her emotions out about her life, because when she was younger, she had no siblings that wanted anything to do with her. Being the youngest of the family makes it hard she says because by the time you get older, your siblings have had enough and become bored with you. Her mom and dad really help her make the connection between the real world, and her writing. With her mom showing love when needed, and her dad being hardworking, they complement the characters in the play almost exactly.
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