In the book A Raisin in the Sun, Lena Younger played the mother of an African American family living in ghetto. Lena had dreams of her family moving to a new house in the suburbs. The move was made possible because of the insurance money collected from Lena’s deceased husband. In the story Lena had a small plant that she cared for. This plant represented the dreams she had for her family. She believed the more she took care and watch over this plant, the more it would grow and be strong. She thought about her family in the same way. She believed that if she kelp the family working together, they would continue to grow together. No matter what troubles come their way, they would rise out of poverty into a better life. These dreams of a better life were a struggle to bring to reality related to the struggles of trying to make ends meet in run down 2-bedroom apartment which houses 5 people. Lena also struggled to keep the small plant alive. There was little sunlight coming in via the window. Lena never gave up on the prosperity of her family or her plant. Even at the end of the story when they were moving to Clybourne Park, Lena took the plant with her. This plant symbolizes that her dreams were still alive just like the plant.
For your research project this semester, you will be writing a literary analysis. A literary analysis is an essay in which you examine literary texts closely in order to understand their messages, to interpret their meanings, and to appreciate the writer’s techniques. There are many different ways to approach a literary analysis. You may choose to focus on imagery in a text (like Lena’s plant in A Raisin in the Sun) or you may want to look at a theme that winds its way through a text (like race stereotypes in “The Passing of Grandison”). Perhaps you want to look at one of the novels we’ve read and examine it against the film I Am Not Your Negro comparing and contrasting the ways in which those two texts present civil rights issues. The possibilities are endless.
Key Elements of a Literary Analysis
A literary analysis, like any other writing, has important key factors that must exist within your writing for it to be successful.
An arguable thesis: essentially, in a literary analysis, you are arguing that your analysis of the text is valid. Therefore, your thesis must be arguable. It has to make a claim about the literature that you will then prove with clear evidence in the body paragraphs.
Arguable Thesis: Harriet Jacobs’ slave narrative highlights toxic gender stereotypes that undermines women, especially women of color.
Non-arguable Thesis: Harriet Jacobs was a woman who used sex in order to survive slavery.
You do not want to give what is essentially a summary of some aspect of the literature. Instead, you want to make a claim that another academic may look at and say “wait a minute! I disagree and here’s why!”
Careful attention to the language of the text: good writer’s write knowing that their words may have a lasting impact on their readers. They choose words, imagery, etc. very carefully to paint a picture for their readers. You do not want to ignore the ways in which a writer has written a literary text. Examine the techniques the writer uses and consider how those techniques impact the audience. This requires a close reading with annotation.
Attention to patterns and themes: your analysis should be built on evidence that exists within the text, which means you have to pay special attention to the patterns explored by the writer and the way themes are used.
A clear interpretation: when writing a literary analysis, you want to show your interpretation of the text based on contextual evidence to support what you believe the text means. This requires you to carefully examine the text, find passages that specifically highlight your interpretation, and adequately represent those passages in your writing using proper quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing techniques.
For this research essay, choose one of the texts we’ve read this semester, and analyze it carefully, using both contextual evidence from the text and source materials from the databases. Because this is a larger assignment, you are required to use 5 sources in all: 1 should be a primary text, which is the text you are analyzing from our readings, and the other 4 should be secondary texts, which are the sources you find through your research with the library databases. If you choose to incorporate a film, television show, or song/album in your essay, it will be considered a second primary text, so you will still need 4 sources from the databases.
Your approach to this essay is entirely up to you. Follow the key elements laid out earlier in this document, choose a thread you would like to unwind in your analysis, and go for it. To help you along the way, you will be working on a research proposal and an annotated bibliography. This will give me a chance to supply you with helpful feedback to make sure you are on the right path.
1200 words, plus a works cited page (not included as part of the word requirement)
Times New Roman, 12 pt font throughout (no exceptions to this)
MLA formatting throughout the document
5 sources in all: 1 primary text WHICH IS THE RAISIN IN THE SUN BY LORRAINE HANSBERRY and 4 secondary texts
The use of contextual evidence throughout
A note on Plagiarism
Any student who submits work that is not their own, including poorly quoted, summarized, or paraphrased material, will fail the essay immediately and a report will be filed with the Vice President of Academic Affairs for Academic Dishonesty. You can find more information about plagiarism in the Academic Integrity Information module in D2L.
Ghani, Hana’ Khalief. “I Have a Dream —Racial Discrimination in Lorraine Hansberry’s a Raisin in the Sun.” Theory and Practice in Language Studies, vol. 1, no. 6, 1 June 2011, 10.4304/tpls.1.6.607-614.
This article talks about how the author, Lorraine Hansberry was able to deal with issues of racism and discrimination. How she portrayed a thoughtful story about a family struggling with poverty. It tells of Lena’s dream. What the house represented to Lena. How much she loved her family. The struggles of black families in the ghetto. It tells of the plant that she was caring for.
Loos, Pamela. A Reader’s Guide to Lorraine Hansberry’s a Raisin in the Sun. Berkeley Heights, Nj, Enslow Publishers, 2008.
Presents an analysis of the play. Discussing the plot, themes, and major characters in the play. It tells how Lean said the plant she was caring for never gets enough sunlight or water, but it continues to grow. Lena looks at her family in the same way. Through all the ups and downs, they will continue to keep surviving. Working together to become better. Better to Lena is moving to a new home. A home out of the ghetto. How Lena cared for her plant is like how she cared for her family. Lena would like to have a garden at her new home to represent how for her family had come.
Lynn Domina, and Lorraine Hansberry. “Understanding a Raisin in the Sun: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents.” Understanding a Raisin in the Sun: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents, Sept. 1998.
A literary analysis of the play. It focuses on segregation and integration. The topic of the relationship on the African American family. It speaks about the relationships between black women and men. The historical and social context of the play. It raises issues of segregation and family strife in the 1950’s.
Viator, Martha Graham, and Sara Halper. “Is the “American Dream” of Homeownership an Equal Opportunity Goal?” The Social Studies, vol. 105, no. 2, 14 Jan. 2014, pp. 75–79, 10.1080/00377996.2013.850052. Accessed 17 Nov. 2019.
This article addresses some hardships of homeownership. Looking at the pursuit of the American Dream though the characters of A Raisin in the Sun. How Lena put a down payment on a home without telling her family where it was located. The challenges of being African American and homeownership. The discrimination of where blacks can live. The unequal opportunities they have. Talks about the benefits of owning your own home. How the home could be left as an inheritance to her grandchildren.