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Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin In The Sun – The Importance of the Struggle

The Importance of the Struggle in A Raisin in the Sun

“Why do some people persist despite insurmountable obstacles, while others give up quickly or never bother to try” (Gunton 118)? A Raisin in the Sun, a play by Lorraine Hansberry, is a commentary on life and our struggle to comprehend and control it. The last scene in the play between Asagai and Beneatha contrasts two contemporary views on why we keep on trying to change the future, and reaches the conclusion that, far from being a means to an end, the real meaning of life is the struggle. Whether we succeed or not, our lives are purposeful only if we have tried to make the world a better place for ourselves and others- only, in other words, if we follow our dreams.

Many self-described realists dismiss this attitude as naive and unrealistic, that finding value in the pursuit of dreams is merely a self-induced delusion. Often, this perspective is obtained after much bitter suffering for little or no apparent reason, as in the case of Beneatha Younger. Already a natural cynic due to the condition of the world into which she was born, a world where poor blacks with aspirations of something better were generally doomed, she became embittered with life when her dream of becoming a doctor was seemingly shattered. From an outside perspective, it seems obvious that she reacted poorly: the money her brother lost, after all, was not hers at all but her mother’s, and how she expected to finance college without the death of her father and the insurance check that followed is unclear. What is clear, however, is that the death of her long-held aspiration had a profound effect on her. “A dream glanced from afar brings disappointment when it collapses; a dream that dies w…

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…th the mundane, everyday anxieties of life, giving little thought to what our existence means or how we can change it. There is another reason, however, that we should strive to mold our own future, no matter how futile a task it may seem. Lost causes can be winnable, if enough people care about them to make them succeed: there is always the hundredth dream.

Works Cited:

Bloom, Harold. Twientieth-Century American Literature. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986.

Draper, James P. Black Literature Criticisms. Detroit: Gale Research Incorporated, 1992.

Gunton, Sharon R. Contemporary Literary Criticisms. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1981.

Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. Literature and the Writing Process. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1996.

Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. New York: Signet, 1988.

Individualism in The Fountainhead

Individualism in The Fountainhead

Individualism, the doctrine of free thought and action of the individual, forms the basis of Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead. The major theme of her fiction is the primacy of the individual, the unique and precious individual life. That which sustains and enriches life is good, that which negates and impoverishes the individual’s pursuit of happiness is evil.

The Fountainhead is Rand’s fullest explication of the primacy of the individual. As she worked out her interpretation of the inalienable rights: the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; and what these entailed, she saw three areas of conflict where these rights were held in balance.

The Three Antipodes:

Individualism versus Collectivism

Egoism versus Altruism

Reason versus Mysticism

All of these areas are interconnected. Collectivism, altruism and mysticism all work against individual freedom, a healthy ego, and rationality.

The Fountainhead is the story of a highly individualistic architect, Howard Roark, and his fight for integrity and individualism against the altruistic parasites and also against the non-heroes who do not believe the fight can be won – the fight of the individual against the non-entity called collectivism.

Non-entity because, any ‘collective’ or group is only a number of individuals. But here, being an individual is to be selfless, voiceless, righteous, slave of any heed, claim or demand asserted by others. Under collectivism, it is imperative to repress one’s critical faculty and hold it as one’s guilt. Doubt, not confidence, is man’s moral-state; self-distrust, not self-reliance, is a virtue; fear, not self-confidence is the mark of perfection; guilt, not p…

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Works Cited and Consulted

Berliner, Michael S., ed. Letters of Ayn Rand. By Ayn Rand. New York: Dutton, 1995.

Branden, Barbara. The Passion of Ayn Rand: A biography. New York: Doubleday, 1986a

Branden, Nathaniel. My Years with Ayn Rand. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1999.

Garmong, Dina. Personal interview. 2 Nov. 1999.

Peikoff, Leonard. The Philosophy of Objectivism, A Brief Summary. Stein and Day, 1982.

Rand, Ayn. The Fountainhead. New York: Plume, 1994.

The Ayn Rand Institute. “A Brief Biography of Ayn Rand” [Online] available, 1995

Walker, Jeff. The Ayn Rand Cult. Carus Publishing Company, 1999

You may wish to begin your paper with the following quote:

“The theme of The Fountainhead is individualism versus collectivism – not in politics but in man’s soul.” Ayn Rand

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