Ntozake Shange/ Lorraine Hannsbury

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Lorraine Hansberry and Ntozake Shange

Post  KadinP on Wed Feb 27, 2013 10:21 pm


Lorraine Hansberry and Ntozake Shange are both well praised authors and playwright that were african americans growing up during a time of segregation and desegregation. This plays a crucial role in both of the books we read by them; A Raisin In The Sun by Lorraine Hansberry and Betsey Brown by Ntozake Shange. Both stories take some of the authors real life experiences and use it for the main ideas and plots of their works. They each grew up in the cities their books take place and some of the experiences of the characters are the same as theirs. They both produced works of literature that touched upon very important problems facing african american families during the 1950’s. A Raisin in the Sun touched upon African Americans not being pushed around but able to lives lives as they please and design. Betsey Brown touched upon a black family being able to live in a world with the same rights as whites but finding ways to distinguish their lives as african american.

Lorraine Hansberry's play A Raisin in the Sun I believe was a very interesting depiction of a black family's struggles and how they were changing. One important struggle is that between the old african american life and the new more modern one. In the household Walter is trying to achieve a new level of life for african american families which includes a focus on money and creating a better financial future, but needs to take chances and risks to achieve it. Beneatha also brings a modern view. She bring ideas into the house ideas including women’s rights and equality, but also disowns gods existence and significance. Mama is trying to keep the family together, secure and safe, while upholding her christian values, even if it means losing money and financial security. She feels that freedom is enough as her generation was among some of the first african americans to not be apart of slavery. However Walter still feels like a slave just without the title. Everyone working is in a servant position, Walter is a chauffeur, and Mama and Ruth work in someone's kitchen. I also find it interesting that certain sections of the play were taken out to make sure it fitted all audiences. These scenes were considered too black for general audiences and were thought that it would hurt selling tickets.

I believe that Betsey Brown was an alright book for school but not an interesting to read. A Raisin in the Sun was a good educational book and a good read. Betsey Brown I felt gave not as important themes and morals as A Raisin in the Sun. A Raisin in the Sun also showed a story that a larger portion of americans shared. Betsey Brown also didn’t have any interesting, and cliff hanger points of the story. A Raisin on the Sun however really grabbed my attention. Walters up and down mood lead you to never expect what he was going to do. The fights against different ideologies, between Mama, Walter, and Beneatha that occur throughout the whole play always spice things up.

KadinP
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John Beeson

Post  jbeeson on Wed Feb 27, 2013 10:25 pm

Giving similarities and differences on Betsey Brown, and Raisin in the sun will be pretty complicated for me. Yes they both are stories mainly about integrating whites and blacks, but the way the two families take care of their situation is different, and obviously how Raisin in the sun is about a family, while Betsey Brown is about a specific character named Betsey. In Betsey Brown, her father, Greer, was huge on integration and being treated equally. He convinced Jane to let the kids go to integrated schools, and took his kids to movements, also when he would ask them trivia questions in the morning before they would go to school, he would sometimes ask black history questions. While it is the complete opposite in a Raisin in the sun. The father in this story is not against equality, but it is not his first priority. Money was Walter’s first priority. He was looking for everything that would benefit his family over integrating into a neighborhood that was all white. His mom or “Mama” was the one in the family who was most like Greer. She was really big on the integrating with the white neighborhood so every time Walter would take about money and how life is now about money, and also how he wanted the ten thousand dollars to be used for a new investment idea for a liquor store he would own with two other colleagues, Mama would give him a speech on how when she was his age the only thing they would ever focus about was being free, and moving up north, so the idea to go to a white neighborhood pleased her. Also like in Betsey Brown, where Greer gave his case as to why they should keep on with the integrating schools, Mama gave her case as to why they need to move into an all white neighborhood. The difference in this is obviously the fact that one situation is about living areas, and the other is about schooling for their children, but the biggest reason why these situations are different is that in Betsey Brown after minutes of pleading why they should go to integrated schools, Jane finally accepted it. But in A Raisin in the sun, it took Mama days of pleading and convincing Walter to move. Walter was not accepting it till the very last second, when a representative from the neighborhood in Chicago came to their apartment to pull through with the transaction of buying the house from the family. But when the man came, Walter’s son Travis was there too. So because of Walter’s pride, he could not take his money, so he told him that do not mean to cause trouble but they are still going to move in. These two stories are similar in ways, but when you look deeper into the ways they are similar, you can see details that make them different.

jbeeson
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Ntozake Shange and Lorraine Hansberry

Post  Rachel D on Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:51 am

Ntozake Shange and Lorraine Hansberry
Betsey Brown by Ntozake Shange and A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry are both very different books, they have similarities, but overall they are very different. An example would be that in Betsey Brown the point of view is in first person and is of how Betsey sees the world, while in A Raisin in the Sun is in third person or the point of view of the narrator. Plus A Raisin in the Sun is a play, and Betsey Brown is a novel. There are an overwhelming number of differences in this book and it is more difficult to find similarities, but both stories are about families. In each story there is a mother her child or children and their wife or husband, who then have their own kid or kids. The families’ structure is very similar but they are also different, in A Raisin in the Sun Walter has a sister giving Travis an aunt, while in Betsey Brown the children don’t have any aunts or uncles they are in contact with let alone live with. Plus in Betsey Brown there are lots of children wile in A Raisin in the Sun there is only one child and one on the way. Both books exhibit the difficulties African American or colored families faced at that time, and in both books the main focus is around family, though in Betsey Brown the family is more tightly bonded, while in A Raisin in the Sun everyone feels as though they are competing for position or right to inheritance. I find it interesting that A Raisin in the Sun touches on women’s rights at the time, and especially colored women’s rights. They do it in an odd way by adding a bit of humor and sibling conflict through Beneatha, Walters’s sister who is experiencing the changing world around her, and cant help but dream of taking part in it. They don’t access this as much in Betsey Brown even though they do show many parts of the world changing, mostly through the mention of protests and the beliefs of the next generation. Betsey Brown is more of a coming of age story, while A Raisin in the Sun is just a segment of a family’s life. It’s great that the stories are so different and that the class got to experience both of them. I can see two totally new view of that time period, although experiencing some of many sides to one story through each character is important, its even more educational and interesting to see two stories describe one time and each stories has each of their of individual characters experiencing that time, you learn allot from things like that. Plus connecting the stories is important so you can find something that really stands out in the past and the present, something that you can relate to today and believe in. The differences and similarities in these books, Betsey Brown by Ntozake Shange and A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, are both very important to understanding them. For example sometimes when see something different it makes what it is different from stand out well as well as itself.
~Rachel Deininger

Rachel D
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Re: Ntozake Shange/ Lorraine Hannsbury

Post  Ben S. on Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:45 am

Writing a comparison of these two remarkable authors is very difficult due to the fact that in and of itself these stories are very different. Granted, they are both about black families during times when civil rights were very worse than they are now, in my opinion. Although minor similarities these families did not show many parallels. In Betsey Brown, they had a nice, large house, lived in a good neighborhood, had a very large and hectic family. Within A Raisin In The Sun, the exact opposite was the story for their family, small house, bad neighborhood, small, although hectic family. Although the obvious differences both of these works were about a family within an urban environment, and within a family there is going to be haste, especially when there are very significant and stressful things going on in your household; I.E. The kids going to an integrated school, and a check for 10,000 dollars coming in the mail (roughly 150,000 dollars in our money today.) The foundation of both of these works is definitely within the struggles of a family and how they plan on overcoming adversity within the community and then ultimately within themselves. This is clearly shown in both author's writings. Within Betsey Brown the moving of the kids into integrated school systems by Greer caused his wife to leave the houselhold, making Greer take care and provide for the whole family now. And within A Raisin In The Sun, the check of 10,000 dollars coming for Mama from insurance, and then her using it to make a down payment on a house is not too much of a problem for most of the house, except for Walter. He selfishly wants to spend the money on a liquor store and rob Mama of her dream of having a nice house. These simple problems are both things that could be avoided using empathy and communication but with the mounting stress, neither story turned out positively due to it. Both authors do a very clear and outstruck job of creating similarities within themselves but are very subtle. These stories still aren't too similar but just share certain theming and writing properties.

Ben S.
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Re: Ntozake Shange/ Lorraine Hannsbury

Post  Silas A. on Thu Feb 28, 2013 9:40 pm

In her early life, Lorraine enjoyed a more privileged life than many other african americans. This better enabled her to explore her talents. Her father Carl, in my opinion, was her prophet that led her through the desert and into the swamps. To have a lot of money to spend is the dream of many people. This life was both a blessing and a curse, at least for africans americans at that time. As a child, she received “cushions” that she could fall back on unlike others in her community. However, when they bought a new house, they were greeted with much hostility from their white neighbors. The Hansberry’s wealth, set them higher than Lorraine’s classmates. As a result, this made Lorraine extremely uncomfortable and, in order to cope with this “uncertainty,” she helped others who were less fortunate. Later, the Hansberry family had to deal with an injunction from the neighborhood improvement association. I agree that Carl did the right thing by challenging the case. However, this showed that not only were they wealthy, but that they could also be 'arrogant' to those around them. Lorraine was always in touch with some of the most influential african americans in her community, such as Langston Hughes and Paul Robeson. This helped lay the groundwork for her greatest achievements. The most successful, A Raisin in the Sun, gave her much praise and still continues to. Ntozake Shange had experienced the same lifestyle that Lorraine had, to be surrounded by influential people and the ability to explore her talents. In her article, it would seem as though she wasn't pleased with her family as well as her own life. She tried to commit suicide many times, but was unsuccessful. Later on, she wrote a play called When the Rainbow is Enuf. This play caused some controversy because it did not show any male-female interactions. When she wrote this play she was targeting colored girls who have tried to commit suicide like herself because they thought they have reached the end of their ‘rainbow’. During her childhood, she started to write poetry but was unsuccessful due to mockery and horrible comments about her writing. Also, she was in a society that later, had shown prejudice among women which made it even harder for her to publish anything, much less gain support from fellow community neighbors. She wrote many other plays and got awarded for many rewards. I did not like her work of Betsey Brown. I felt like it was too heavy in general.

Silas A.
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Re: Ntozake Shange/ Lorraine Hannsbury

Post  Sophie W on Sun Mar 03, 2013 2:24 pm

Lorraine Hansberry and Ntozake Shange are very different authors with very different backgrounds. Lorraine Hansberry came from a successful family with more money than the average colored family. However, Lorraine disliked that her family had more money than many others, and always tried to help those in need. When her family relocated to living in an all-white neighborhood in 1938, this experience was one that tremendously impacted her book, "A Raisin in the Sun", where the Younger family also moved to an all-white neighborhood and were forced to fight for their right to stay living there. The new neighbors the Hansberrys' had were incredibly hostile to their family, where Lorraine narrowly missed being killed by a brick thrown through their window. Through the years, the Hansberry household had frequent visitors that were quite famous, such as Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson, and W.E.B. Dubois. Seeing these people gave Lorraine strength to be what she wanted to be, instead of what society told her she had to be, or that there were certain limits. These people she saw proved that the limits did not exist. Lorraine was smart, smart enough to get into the University of Wisconsin but her struggles with math forced her to drop out. In 1951 she met her future husband, Robert Nemiroff. The two gained $100,000 when Nemiroff wrote a song "Cindy, Oh Cindy", which allowed Lorraine to quite her job and focus solely on writing. She came up with drafts of "A Raisin in the Sun", and a music publisher Philip Rose loved it so much, he worked tirelessly for a production. He managed to have a play in Philadelphia and Chicago and it was nearly an overnight success. The following year a film on "A Raisin in the Sun" premiered.
Like Lorraine Hansberry, Ntozake Shange grew up in a family with a significant amount of money with her father being a surgeon and her mother a psychiatric social worker, and moved into a large house with her family, which would later be an inspiration for "Betsey Brown". Unlike Lorraine Hansberry, the house that they moved into was in a segregated neighborhood where everyone were nonwhites. "We all had to to live with each other because we couldn't live with the white people," Ntozake said. Ntozake was enrolled into a formerly all-white school where she was harassed and attacked by other students. This may have played a part in "Betsey Brown" where Betsey is so fed up with everyone at her school and starts to cry. Like Lorraine Hansberry, the Shanges' had famous visitors come to their house, such as Dizzy Gillespie, Paul Robeson, and Mongo Santamaria. Ntozake did not get much support on her writing from people outside of her family. In high school when Ntozake first began to write, "One teacher in particular told me didn't I think I was beating a dead horse? and dismissively threw my paper on my desk. The others just sort of turned away from me in terms of friendship and support." This goes to show that the lack of support was fuel for Ntozake to keep writing eventually.

Sophie W
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Re: Ntozake Shange/ Lorraine Hannsbury

Post  Sean N. on Tue Mar 05, 2013 8:29 pm

Both of these two have such incredibly noticeable differences it is like Elijah Glass and David Dunn in Unbreakable. Yet they have such strong similarities, almost as if they are related. Starting with the family life, Loraine is the youngest of four, and lived in lived in Chicago. Ntozake was the oldest of four, and lived in St. Louis. It is also very interesting to note, that Lorraine wrote Raisin in the Sun, which is about a black family living in Chicago, moving into a white residential area, which happened in her actual life. To compare, Ntozake wrote Betsey Brown, which is about a black family living in St. Louis, in a mostly black community, which is the same environment Ntozake lived in during her childhood. That is a difference within a comparison. Both had written stories that could be related to their lives, and events that occurred in their childhood’s. Even the time frames of their stories and childhoods were the same. Lorraine wrote Raisin in the Sun, which took place in between the 1950’s and the end of World War Two, which is when she was a young child, while Ntozake wrote Betsey Brown, which took place in the 1960’s, the same time Ntozake was growing up.
Another noticeable difference in the text was that Ntozake was more of a family person, living with her family, even her parents, and making more stronger relationships. Hansberry married to Robert Nemiroff, and left her family for an education and and a job in writing books and screenplays. Because of these differences, Ntozake began more family friendly and caring towards families, while Loreane became, almost a realist, showing the real pains in society, and fractures in families.
Obviously, another similarity was their lives, not their childhood, but their adulthood. Loraine got a college education, married, and got a job as a screenwriter. Ntozake lived a painful life, marrying briefly, and attempting suicide many times, but did wind up going to college, and with a good education, she got a job as a screenwriter, a novelist, and a childrens author. She also had won many awards in her life.
Their deaths is a major difference as well. Ntozake isn’t dead, yet, but it already is different than Lorraine, because she has lived through the civil rights acts, attempted suicide on several occasions, and has seen the N-word race move from non violent protests, to having a man in the White house. Lorraine died from cancer, after finishing a few more screenplays after the big accomplishment of Raisin in the Sun.
In the whole scheme of things, the two got what many people of their race couldn’t accomplish in their times, made great stories and screenplays, and helped shine some light on how life was during the 1950’s and 60’s for N-words families and children, and how they coped with racism, poverty, each other, and segregation.
Going back on Betsey Brown and Raisin in the Sun, both were two great stories, and very touching, especially for those who love family concerned stories.

Sean N.
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Re: Ntozake Shange/ Lorraine Hannsbury

Post  C Smith on Sat Mar 23, 2013 5:27 pm

Ntozake Shange and Lorraine Hansberry had many similarities. The main ones were there intellectual writings and facing segregation. They were both excellent writers even from a young age. Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun and Ntozake Shange’s book Betsy Brown. Their childhood growing up in segregation probably influenced them to take action to write the arts that they did. There is no way to describe either of their works of art in words. They are both thrilling to read, and they were for a good purpose. These writings had to make a difference in people’s lives. Even more outstanding they were both colored women which makes this even more fantastic.

C Smith
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Re: Ntozake Shange/ Lorraine Hannsbury

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