The values and principles of the society and family are important in influencing its morals and culture. Specifically, they determine how individuals express themselves, develop their talents, and fulfill their dreams. Basically, the family is the link that enables people to play their role in the society. A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry and Trifles by Susan Glaspell, albeit with minor differences, illustrate the importance of a strong family as well as an inclusive society in enabling human beings to accomplish their roles.
Importance of Family
In the A Raisin in the Sun by Hansberry, she illustrates how the household dreams can be eroded by selfish and inconsiderate personal aspirations. On the same note, she shows that ignorance is the major contributor of these actions. Overly, she demonstrates the importance of homestead members putting the overall family dreams as the main agenda, and at times foregoing their personal goals.
In order to illustrate this, the author scripts the book in relation to a poor family, the Youngers’, who leave in South Side of Chicago. This home consistently struggles to achieve most its dreams, which at times leads to distress, selfishness, and unnecessary confrontations. Overly, all its members have self-interests on how they plan to utilize their father’s insurance money. Actually, only the current head of the family, Mama, appears focused on using the finance for the homestead overall benefit.
Walter, the Youngers’ only son, wants to use the family money to start a liquor business with his friends. Beneatha, the youngest daughter, wants the money to pay all her college fee. Mama wants to use the money to buy a family house (Hansberry 1514-1516). She believes that buying a house will provide a secure and stable residency for the family, a dream that she and her late husband wanted to achieve (Hansberry 1519).
In addition to this, Hansberry shows the disastrous effect that selfish motives have in the family’s ability to achieve its dreams. Specifically, she shows this theme when Walter invests all the money that Mama had given him, including Beneatha’s school fees, in the liquor business. When this money is stolen, he essentially limits the Youngers’ ability to comfortably pay Beneatha’s school fees (Hansberry 1561-1563). Nonetheless, despite their differences, this family is able to unite and they resolve and commit to placing family goals ahead of personal achievements.
On the contrary, in the Trifles by Glaspell, she illustrates how unresolved family disputes and restraint can make individuals not to fulfill their dreams. The Trifles is set on an investigation on the cause of death of Mr. Wright, whom the society acknowledges as being a good man. However, the play quickly delves deep to show how Mr. Wright’s characters stifle and destroy his family’s bond. He is a tough and strict man who limits his wife’s interaction with friends and in the achievement of her dreams. Interestingly, his character traits do not correspond with his name, which is pronounced as “right,” this, illustrates the use of sarcasm by the author.
While investigating the death of Mr. Wright, the town’s sheriff, Henry Peters and the county attorney George Henderson arrive into Mr. Wrights farmhouse accompanied by Lewis Hale, who is the witness, Mrs. Peters, and Mrs. Hale. In the subsequent scripts, Lewis Hale describes how he realized about Mr. Wrights death. Noteworthy, this section is acted when Mrs. Wright is already been incarcerated since she is the prime suspect. The men’s condescending remarks push the women away; in effect, they do not offer much help in the investigation. In addition, the men undermine the women for worrying over trifles instead of the case (Glaspell 4). Nevertheless, Henderson allows the women to collect for Mrs. Wright some items as long as he agrees that these materials are irrelevant for the case.
It is during the collection of personal items of Mrs. Wright that the women discover a quilt. Upon further scrutiny, they discover an empty birdcage. Later, they find a dead bird in Mrs. Wright sewing basket. Interestingly, the bird has been strangled in a similar fashion as her husband. The women hide the evidence, and the men are unable to find any substantial information that can prosecute Mrs. Wright. While reminiscing about Mrs. Wright, Mrs. Hale notes that she used to be jovial and lively before her marriage. However, as evidenced by the killing of her bird, through strangling, this shows the rift that may have existed in the family (Glaspell, 13). Essentially, this may have led Mrs. Wright to murder her husband in the manner that he killed her bird.
Position of Women in the Society
A Raisin in the Sun by Hansberry portrays women taking a leadership role in the society. Ideally, this evidence is shown by in their ability to make life-changing family and personal decisions. To begin with, Mama, who is the head of the family, has absolute authority on how the family’s money is spent. Essentially, she does this when she decides to make a down payment for a house in a White neighborhood without the approval of the other family members (Hansberry 1556-1569). In addition to this, all family members leave in her house. Ideally, this gives her authority and dominance over all of them.
On the same breath, the ability of women to make critical life changing decision is shown when Ruth, Walter’s wife, decides to have an abortion (Hansberry 1568-1569). Evidently, this shows women’s ability to make critical personal decisions. Interestingly, the family discovers about her decision when she has already made a deposit for this procedure. This shows women independence in making personal decisions.
On the same accord, Beneatha’s outspoken and at times annoying remarks show that women opinions are respected and valued. During an argument with Mama, she once says that she does not think that God actually helps her family (Hansberry 1522). Overly, this illustrates that the Younger’s society and family allow women to think and express themselves in the manner that they like.
On the converse, the Trifles is set in a society where women opinions are not respected. Actually, the men condemn women curiosity and character and question their ability to make sound and reasonable decisions. Evidently, the undermined position of women is illustrated when Mr. Hale asserts that women are usually worried over trifles (Glaspell 4). In general, his outlandish remarks show that he has a biased opinion on the importance of women opinion. Interestingly, these condemned characters of women are what lead to their ability to discover that Mrs. Wright is the most likely murderer of her husband.
To begin with, while the men only acknowledge that Mr. Wright was a noble and hardworking man, they overlook the importance of checking the character change of Mrs. Wright since she became married. Mrs. Hales notes that she significantly changed from being jovial and lively to being lonely and quiet. Further, their curiosity, of even the trifles, leads them to discover the dead bird in Mrs. Wright sewing basket.
Racism and Poverty
A Raisin in the Sun by Hansberry cleverly shows the theme of racism and poverty. Notably, the struggle against racism and its debilitating effect is merged with the theme of self-identity. To begin with, the author sets the play in a poor black neighborhood in South Side of Chicago. When the family decides to move to a white neighborhood, both the family members and the white community shun this thought. Quickly, Mama is forced to calm the family by telling them that she chose a home in a white neighborhood since it was the only one available. Moreover, Mama’s choice is discredited by Mr. Johnson who points out dangers of living in such a locality (Hansberry 1548). Similarly, Karl Linder, who acts as an agent of Clybourne Park Improvement Society approaches the Youngers with a lucrative offer so that they may forego their decision of relocating to this region (Hansberry, 1556-1558). These ideas are based on perceived attributes of each race and not realities (Bonilla-Silva). Self-identity in relation to racism is illustrated when Beneatha decides to cut her hair and dress in African attire (Hansberry 1536-1539). Ideally, she aims at accepting her African identity and not assimilating European cultures.
Evidently, the issue of poverty is pronounced in the entire text. The Younger’s family is in a constant struggle to come out of poverty. Walter clearly illustrates this theme when he decides to invest in the liquor business with the hope of creating wealth. Moreover, Ruth, the family finance manager is unable to comfortably give Travis half a dollar that is needed for school projects (Hansberry 1512). Essentially, this illustrates that the family has financial difficulty.
On the contrary, the theme of racism is not pronounced on the Trifles. Ideally, all individuals have European names and are most likely whites. Similarly, the society is significantly wealthy. Although the Wrights do not have a telephone line, their family income is high. Given that the family lives in a farmhouse, this shows that they own a house, a farm, and various farm inputs (Glaspell 4-5).
A Raisin in the Sun is set in a society where both men and women have an almost equal opportunity. Ideally, when Mama is dividing the remaining share of the $10,000, she gives $3,500 to Walter and $3,000 to Beneatha. Evidently, this distribution is almost equal since Walter has more responsibilities than Beneatha. Moreover, Mama intends him to act as a custodian of the money and not the owner. In addition to this, all individuals are called by their own names. On the converse, the Trifles is based on a patriarchal society. In brief, the men are the dominant characters in the society. Noteworthy, all the government officials at the crime scene are men, Mr. Peters and Mr. Henderson (Glaspell 1-2). Further still, all women use their husband’s names, Mrs. Peters, Mrs. Hale, and Mrs. Wright (Sarkar). Essentially, this shows that the Trifles is set in a male dominated society.
To sum up, both the Trifles and A Raisin in the Sun illustrate the social issues of the importance of family in shaping and influencing the society’s character. Importantly, the authors raise important issues such as racism, poverty, and the position of women in the society. Notably, the issues illustrated in these books are significant and relevant as when they were first written. In light of this, all individuals should read these plays since they may positively influence and shape their characters.
Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo. Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2014. Print.
Glaspell, Susan. Trifles. New York, NY: Samuel French, Inc., 2010. Print.
Hansberry, Lorraine. “A Raisin in the Sun”: Modern Classics. New York, NY: Methuen Drama, 2001. Print.
Sarkar, Profulla. Women in Patriarchal Society. New Delhi, India: Serials Publications, 2010. Print.