An AfricanAmerican Experience Essay Research Paper August

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An African-American Experience Essay, Research Paper August Wilson s The Piano Lesson and Lorraine Hansberry s A Raisin in the Sun seek to dramatize the various issues that two African-American families face. Although the dramas take place in two distinct time periods, there exists a comparative and contrastive view of the various issues that arise in these two dramas. The struggle to rise from economic adversity is present in the two protagonists in these dramas, who both have dreams of achieving economic success, a central issue in these two dramas. In The Piano Lesson, the character Boy Willie seeks to obtain the family s treasured heirloom, a piano, for which he wants to sell for money. In return he wants to use the money to buy land from the Sutter family, former

slave-owners of his family, the Charles s. Boy Willie intends to grow cotton and/or tobacco on this land and even hire some workers so that he can achieve his dream of economic success. On the other hand, there lies the character Walter Younger in A Raisin in the Sun. His dream is to open a liquor store and reap from the profits. However, this can t be accomplished unless his Mama gives him the money from a $10,000 insurance check she receives from her husband s death. The struggle for these characters to achieve economic success is one that all blacks, even today, can relate to, according to Thomas P. Adler, since the economic havoc wreaked on the American Negro takes some ten to fifteen years off the life expectancy of African-American folks (1794). The characters of Boy Willie

and Walter Younger seek to rise above the oppression they have faced as blacks and instead try to transform themselves into a dream, the dream of economic stability. This gives rise to the moral issues that are evident by these two characters to achieve their dream. Boy Willie constantly nags and harasses his sister Berniece to sell the piano to him, even telling her that you can t do nothing with that piano sitting up here in the house, that s just like if I let them watermelons sit out there and rot, I d be a fool (Wilson 1988). She constantly says that she wants it kept in the family, but Boy Willie won t accept no for an answer. He and his friend Lymon even try to lift the piano from the house. The behavior displayed by Boy Willie is one of greed, selfishness, and discontent

toward his sister Berniece, including his family. The character of Walter Younger is filled with joy when he hears that the insurance check has arrived, but switches to disappointment when Mama tells him that he isn t going to invest in a liquor store. He looks her straight in the eyes and tells her you ain t even looked at it and you have decided-well, you tell that to my boy tonight when you put him to sleep on the living-room couch… (Hansberry 1753). This is even more evident when viewed on screen, as you can see in the intensity of Walter s eyes as he looks at Mama (A Raisin). This displays in Walter a low moral conduct, which even decreases lesser when he comes home drunk in the next act. Even though these characters display improper conduct, it can be viewed as being

understandable, since they are both striving to achieve a dream, something which no one or anything should stand in the way of. Although in A Raisin in the Sun Walter Younger has a dream for himself, other characters have dreams also, dreams that deal with achieving freedom for oneself and in some instances for others as well. For a while now the Younger family has been living in a worn-out house where Walter s son Travis sleeps on the couch in the living room. With the insurance money that she has in handy, Mama s dream is to uplift her family from the ghetto life of Southside Chicago to its urban life. She does just that by buying a house in a white neighborhood. It is a house that she has always dreamed of having for her family with its three bedrooms, a yard with a little