A Raisin in the Sun

The Ideal Man and the Flawed Pursuit of Perfection College

Both Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun and Toni Morrison’s 1987 novel Beloved are works that deal predominately with race, but feature vastly different subject matter. Beloved features a group of people haunted by the memory of slavery and learning what it takes to begin to overcome it, while A Raisin in the Sun features a family in the late 1950’s grappling with systemic racism and trying to figure out whether to challenge it, or to submit to it. However, despite their differences in plot, both works deal with the subject of masculinity in the same way. Both Beloved (147-148) and A Raisin in the Sun (108-109) portray the image of the ideal man as a double-edged sword; while the image of the ideal man is well-intentioned as a standard for perfection, the pursuit of that perfection drives men to make decisions and take on character traits that are flawed, and in some cases contradictory, to the very image they are trying to epitomize.

Walter Lee Younger gives his definition of what it means to be an ideal man on pages 108-109 in A Raisin in the Sun. He begins by telling his son “When you ‘bout seventeen years old, I’ll come home pretty tired, you know what I mean, after a long day of conferences and secretaries...

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