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Comparison and Contrast of the Family Dynamics in A Raisin In The Sun and “Everyday Use”

Updated on December 7, 2011

Comparison and Contrast of the Family Dynamics in A Raisin In The Sun and “Everyday Use”

Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin In The Sun and Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” are both stories that have their own individual qualities but one key factor that connects them is family values. These stories are both about black families that learn about true family ties while in the midst of day to day trying to get by.

One of the biggest connecting factors in these two stories is the character Beneatha from A Raisin In The Sun and Dee from “Everyday Use”. Both Beneatha and Dee come from family’s rich in culture, history and traditions but these two girls look to try to be different to break from their family’s norm and be individual. Dee’s family consists of her mother and younger sister, Maggie; Mother and Maggie are very into family tradition and they live simply. Dee likes to be into the latest fashions and trends but when world cultures become the new ‘it’ crowd thing, Dee changes her name to one that sounds more African and she starts to date a man named Asalamalakim. Dee comes to her mother’s home to take pictures and gather up family heirlooms to put in her home to keep up with the ‘it’ crowd. Beneatha on the other hand lives with her family but at the start of the story she’s rebelling against her norm of being a black woman in a time near WWII. Beneatha attends college and is studying to be a doctor not something a lot of women did in her time. Her family doesn’t have a lot of money, although they do get by, but Mama Lena, the family matriarch, still manages to fund Beneathas new interests as she moves from one hobby to the next but she still stays in school. Toward the middle and the end of the story Beneatha starts to date Asagai who is from Africa. Beneatha begins to genuinely develop a love for her own culture and decides to be a doctor in Africa. Both Beneatha and Dee embrace their culture but Dee does so to be popular while Beneatha embraces her history because she really loves her peoples’ deep culture.

The two stories are both defined by the grandmothers, the family matriarchs. In “Everyday Use” the grandmother is deceased but her quilts become the focal point of the stories climax. Dee wants the quilts because they will make a good conversational piece because they’re African history but her sister wants them as they are a part of the family. In A Raisin In The Sun the grandmother is Mama or also called Lena; she has an old plant in the families apartment. Mama’s plant is the most flourishing of plants but even though it may get forgotten from time to time in the family’s hustle and bustle Mama still manages to keep her eye on it. Just like the many members of the family from time to time when one of them gets swept under the rug Mama always tries her hardest to tend to them all. The family has a rough time but they still each manage to flourish where their planted in their own season just like Mama’s plant.

In the end, the Younger family in A Raisin In The Sun, comes out ahead because the whole family learns how to grow where their planted they all move to a home of their own, even Mama’s plant, despite the fact the white people there don’t want them there but they go anyway because they’ve learned that together they can weather anything. On the other hand the family in “Everyday Use” only the mother and Maggie come out stronger. The mother learns to stand up to Dee and protect Maggie emotionally by giving Maggie the grandmother’s quilts because Maggie knows how to appreciate the quilts but Dee ends the story the way she began it, still emotionally far from her family. In the end both stories highlight that what truly matters in the end isn’t money or rich history instead it’s really all about family.


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