A Raisin in the Sun In Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun”
A Raisin in the Sun
In Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun”, the matriarch Lena Younger (Mama) is an exceptionally strong character and the emotional adhesive of the family. Mama’s moral integrity allows her to persevere in the face of adversity, ultimately leading her family through numerous difficult trials and bringing them to love and support each other.
Mama’s is portrayed to be a devout believer in God, and her strong, spiritual background manifests itself in her perseverance and determination to survive. Mama’s strength and faith is evident when she is first presented in the play, the stage directions indicate that “being a woman who has adjusted to many things in life and overcome many more, her face is full of strength” and that “she has, we can see, … faith”. Her spirituality is further reinforced throughout the play, with comments like “It’s too early in the morning to be talking about money. It ain’t Christian,” and “God knows…,”
Guided by her Christian faith, it acts as a moral compass and Mama exhibits numerous Christian values. We see her kindness towards Ruth when she learns of her pregnancy, her hope in Walter Lee when entrusting him with the money, her patience with Beneatha and overall protecting of the family.
Mama’s moral integrity also influence and guides her family. For example, despite learning that Walter has lost the 6500$, she still has hope in him. Through her hope in him, Walter ultimately makes a decision which benefits the whole family rather than himself.
Mama’s strength is also exhibited through her endurance of many trials, such as the loss of the money. She also endures through migration from the South and then living in the tenement, the loss of her baby and the death of her husband. Through all of this, she never loses faith in God, in fact she turns to God to strengthen her in the face of adversity. When she learns that Walter Lee has lost the money, she turns to God, “Oh, God…She looks up to Him. Look down here – and show me the strength”
Throughout the play, Mama’s moral values place her as a literary foil to her children Walter and Beneatha because, while they struggle with their human dignity, Lena Younger emanates this quality. Mama is sure in her faith in God and she uses her faith knowledge to teach her children. Because of this, A Raisin in the Sun sets an enduring example of how all people should support, get along with, and love each other.
To Kill a Mockingbird
The theme of religion in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is an extremely important one, as it is a backdrop for everything that takes place. The community of Maycomb County all believe themselves to be devout, wholesome people; we discover that their actions and views are far from the Christian values they believe themselves to have. Despite the fact that every member of Maycomb’s community are thought to take religion seriously, only the Black community do so and truly practise it.
Religion is crucial to the coloured people of Maycomb as it is the only way for them to maintain hope while fighting the prejudice and racism that plagued the county. Attending their church (First Purchase Church) every Sunday gives them a sense of purpose and community, as it is the only social activity in which they can engage in. The Black community comes together through their faith, strive to be their best selves and by doing so support each other (ex: members of the First Purchase church raising money to help Tom Robinson’s family).
When Calpurnia brings Jem and Scout to her church, the majority of Blacks are happy to see them, but Lula’s character objects, stating that “You ain’t got no business bringin’ white chillun here- they got their church, we got our’n. It is our church, ain’t it, Miss Cal?”, thus reinforcing the blatant prejudice and racism instilled in Maycomb County. Calpurnia’s response, “It’s the same God, ain’t it?” shows that she doesn’t believe that differences in skin color matter. Moreover, she is saying that Blacks and Whites worship the same God, a God who teaches to “love your neighbour as you love yourself” and views everyone as equals, thus calling out the hypocrisy saturating the community.
Furthermore, the churchgoers then drive of Lula and welcome the children with open arms and warm smiles. This reaction shows how strong their sense of community is and how by truly worshipping God and living in His image, racism can be overcome and in its stead strong moral values.
Another example of how religion influences life in Maycomb is when Atticus explains to Scout why he chose to defend Tom Robinson, stating that “This case, Tom Robinson’s case, is something that goes to the essence of a man’s conscience—Scout, I couldn’t go to church and worship God if I didn’t try to help that man.” Hence he puts his ethical views in terms of religion, again referring to how one should act according to Christian moral principles. Atticus also vigorously invokes God’s name throughout the trial, his final statement being “In the name of God, do your duty.” He thus appeals to the Jury’s religious and moral values and urges them to truly do what is right rather than prolong the hypocrisy and prejudice.