Something happened in literature tutorial today that I’ve been dying to pen down. The class was amidst a discussion on Lorraine Hansberry’s play, ‘A Raisin in The Sun’. My prof was being quite critical of the character ‘Beneatha’. He commented that while her ‘dream’ was nobel in some sense, as compared to her brother’s, it was quite self-serving. Whereas, Walter’s dream was essentially rooted to his family.
“Professor, I’ve got a question. Don’t you think that we are being too critical of Beneatha? I mean, she is still studying in college– so she’s quite young. And in that age, isn’t that normal? To waver between identities and ambitions?”
Prof goes on to poll the class on whom they agreed with; him or me. (He wasn’t being condescending; it was all in the name of intellectual discourse.) The results of the poll was pretty evenly split. So he asked a few people who agreed with him to respond with their viewpoint.
A girl, whose name slips my mind, spoke up. She remarked that Beneatha should be around our age– and that should translate into some form of maturity to consider her family’s needs rather than just her own. “Her dreams are quite selfish,” she said.
Prof surveys the class once again, “Who agrees that Beneatha is selfish.”
Majority of the class’ hands were raised; mine included.
“So you changed your mind?” he asked me.
“No. I agree that she is selfish. But shouldn’t that be expected of her? I feel like it is a phase that many of us go through, even at the university level. We are still in the process of building our self-concept, and it tends to be more selfish than not. So I was just wondering if we should hold it against Beneatha for thinking a little too much about herself.”