The Opposition to Oppression: Beneatha’s Protests

In Act II, Scene i, of A Raisin in the Sun, the audience is truly introduced to just how meaningful the opposition that Beneatha has towards oppression is, through herthrough her studying to be a doctor, regardless of what others think/say, her performance of a Nigerian folk dance, wearing the Nigerian robes that Asagai gave her, and when she cuts her hair to take a stance for her African heritage. Though initially, everyone is shocked and confused, Ruth and George both eventually show appreciation and understanding towards the sudden course of action.In many instances throughout the scene, Beneatha is heard to be fighting the idea of assimilation, or the desire to join or become one with white culture. The way she speaks of George in comparison to Asagai is an example of this; when speaking about George she states “the only people in the world who are more snobbish than rich white people are rich colored people”, meanwhile when she speaks about Asagai she fawns over how accomplished and intellectual he is. However while talking about either of these two young men, Beneatha stays true to herself, claiming she wants more than just one feeling toward a man, which helps further portray her independent personality. 

In today’s media, and within the last five years especially, there have been many instances of standing up for what people truly believe in, rather than what society is telling them to be. One of the movements or trends that has been happening in the recent years is the “free the nipple movement”, where woman are going against the idea of having to wear a bra to make others feel comfortable, when women themselves are making themselves uncomfortable. Of course this goes farther than not wearing a bra, on a much bigger scale, citizens from other countries are fighting their governments when they think a law or course of action is unjust and unfair and should be changed. The use of striking is a popular way of getting one’s point across. Like Beneatha changing her hairstyle as a form to express her true self and celebrate her heritage, people around the globe are also acting out in peaceful protests, and while they are not always well received, the point is still made. 

One of the most recent examples of opposition in the media has effected millions and millions of people; the longest government shutdown in the course of United States history. The shutdown happened after President Trump and the U.S. Senate failed to negotiate on the budget for 2019, including the infamous wall that President Trump has gone on record to plan to build on the U.S. border. It is important to keep in mind, however that this was not the first time that a form of protest will happen to make a stance, nor will it be the last.  

Question #1: Choose one other character in A Raisin in the Sun who has shown opposition. What have they been opposing, how have they shown opposition and what are the reactions they’ve received from other characters? 

Question #2: How else does A Raisin in the Sunrelate to current events happening in the world or events that have happened in the past five or so years? (This could be an event that has happened specifically in your life if you feel comfortable to share!) 

5 thoughts on “The Opposition to Oppression: Beneatha’s Protests”

  1. I think you make some really good points about Beneatha’s attempts to protest. In the introduction of the book, when Robert Nemiroff is listing off some of the themes present throughout the play, he mentions “the outspoken (if then yet unnamed) feminism of the daughter.” I think that in all of the examples that you give, you can see some sort of feminism shining through, especially in the moments about her hair and her striving to become a doctor despite her own family not fully believing in her.

  2. I like your position on the way Beneatha attempts to fight against oppression. A particular scene that stood out to me was on page 34 where Walter states, “You a horrible-looking chick at this hour.” Even though this can be taken as a joke between siblings, I also felt the comment paved way to an issue still predominant within the black community where black women are executed over their appearance. Statements like such can coincide with colorism(preferring lighter brown skin to darker brown skin), the way an African American woman chooses to style her hair (pressing, box braids, Bantu knots, etc.) and other ways appearance can tear down and oppress a woman- whether it be through her family or even in business settings. Another example is when Giuliana Rancic made an insensitive “joke” over Zendaya wearing dreads at a formal event in which Rancic could “smell the weed” off of her locs by looking at a photo. That is how appearance and stereotype work together to shame and oppress others.

  3. I think the way you connected Beneatha’s protests with more current issues and events such as the free the nipple movement was really clever. The way you linked the idea of standing up for what you personally want rather than what society wants to the free the nipple movement could not have been done better in my opinion. With a movement as controversial as the feminist one, i believe it was the best example you could have utilized, given that Beneatha herself is also acting with feminist ideas, especially the cutting of her hair. Additionally, I think connecting the shutdown was another excellent comparison and compliment to the original detailed description you gave of the way Beneatha is reacting to the oppression she is facing.

  4. I really liked how you bring up the idea of oppression and fighting for what you believe in. It relate backs to me to a part from scene one. On page 24 it talks about the natural light in the room. In muliple different stories, natural light comes to represent freedom and escape. Whether its a kid longing to be free from a class room, or a horror movie where the sunlight shows that the people are safe, natural light always has a good meaning. The fact that the only natural light they enjoy is the light that fights its way through the window shows to me that the only freedoms they enjoy in life are the freedoms that have been fought for.

  5. I think the idea of oppression was a really good topic to focus on. Beneatha is really strong character so far in this book. She is trying to go beyond everyones single story of Africans. My favorite part of your blog is when you reference free the nipple, honestly would have never thought about that but its actually really similar. Before they even say her name in the book they reference her as being a strong feminist.

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