“Fences” and “A Raisin in the Sun”
Plays, “Fences” and “A Raisin in the Sun” share similar plots. They take place in the mid-western United States in the 1950’s and explore the family dynamics of the African-American Family and the paradigmatic shift it experienced between two generations. The older generation, who could remember slavery by first-hand experience or by being born during a time when success for the average African-Americans was systematically stifled by racist and unconstitutional laws that were put in place when slavery was legal, and the young generation that began to show some sense of entitlement, had begun to overcome institutional barriers to succeed and empower themselves with knowledge and education, but who without the proper guidance and support, were willing to compromise their honor and family for monetary or superficial gain. Throughout both plays, conceived notions of masculinity and femininity with their respective roles are simultaneously intertwined with intergenerational conflicts. In “A Raisin in the Sun,” Walter Younger is at odds with his mother, Lena Younger, over his plans to use his father’s life insurance money to invest in a liquor store. By her values, a dishonorable business in itself for its profit from alcoholism, but using his father’s life insurance money, which see considers in a way to be the sum of his life, the price given to what the value of his life was, would be an abomination. And Walter just doesn’t get it until the very end. In “Fences,” Troy Maxson, is a middle-aged, African-American man who was born and grew up under extremely oppressed circumstances, has been in prison, played baseball but couldn’t play professionally because of the baseball commission’s ban of black players before Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Troy refuses to let his son, Cory, to go to college on a football scholarship possibly out of bitterness for not being allowed to play professional baseball in his youth, but he says he doesn’t want him to endure the racism he’s had to endure while playing sports. Simultaneously, Troy is having an extramarital affair with Alberta, who ends up becoming pregnant and dying at child birth while giving birth to Raynell, forcing him to confess the affair to his wife, Rose in order to care for his illegitimate child. As interesting and complex as the relationships between these characters are, more thought-provoking and intelligently embedded in these stories, is the role of the woman, the matriarchs of these families. The strength that these women display is remarkable and impressive. The selfless and unconditional sacrifice for the protection of their family or the family institution by the African-American mother proves to be enduring and prevail amidst the constant bombardment of the men in their family by external influences and their preoccupation with monetary accomplishment and social status
In “A Raisin in the Sun,” each of the characters clearly had their own ideas or plans for the insurance money. Walter felt that since he was the "man" of the family she should have control of the money and ultimately decide how his family is to use the money. Mama, however, had plans for the long-term; she wanted to invest in a home for the family. Mama, is very religious, maternal, and is outspoken about her moral values. Mama raised her children, Walter and Beneatha, to be proud and respectful. She has made it her life’s mission to impart in her offspring a certain standard for living, a certain level of ethical reasoning to which all major decisions made having to do with family and society be based on. Mama keeps a clean house and readily stands up for what she believes to be right. She is the matriarch of the family and wants only for her children to be happy and to be a good mother by holding the family together. Ruth, Walter’s wife, shows a lot of the same qualities...
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