American Literature 3/13 – Education in A Raisin in the Sun

Today, we read Act II Scene II of A Raisin in the Sun. We already talked about Booker T. Washington and Walter’s role in the play. There is one more part that I would like to discuss with you. In the beginning of the scene, George and Bennie are entering the room arguing about education.

How can their argument be understood and which perspective does each character have on the value of education for their lives.

Also, how does this tie in with the rest of the scene and what might Hansberry intent by having her characters argue about this topic? (Think about the time it was written in and the possible audience it was written for)

Leave a comment and answer to at least one other comment by Thursday morning.

Happy snow day everyone! Stay warm and safe!

10 thoughts on “American Literature 3/13 – Education in A Raisin in the Sun

  1. To understand both characters argument, I believe we should look into both perspective rather than siding with one. George doesn’t necessarily value education as much as Beneatha as stated in Act 2 Scene 2 when he says “it’s simple. You read books–to learn facts–to get grades—to pass the course–to get a degree..” after Beneatha asks him whats the point of going to school. George views education as something you just go through to gain a degree and earn cash rather than putting into thought of the importance of education. The traditional view during their time period is the American dream with idea of owning a nice home with a white picket fence, a good job, and family which is what George appears to go for and try to obtain from Beneatha, but Beneatha on the other hand has other plans. Beneatha wants to break the role of the traditional view as we have seen her in the beginning of the play that she wants to pursue her dream and education of becoming a doctor. She sees education as an experience as to not only learn about her heritage, but learn how the world works and what it means to be living in this world. She puts in a lot of thought into the idea of education and doesn’t view it as a way to earn money and live through life just earning money. She realizes this choice after deciding to end things with George in page 98 after Mama said “well–i guess you better not waste your time with no fools.”
    How this ties in with the rest of the scene is we view the importance of these characters dreams and which idea they would fall under: money can guide you through life or education is the way to life. During this scene we do see these characters true colors come out and without actually telling us, the author shows it in another way based on the characters actions. An example of this is when we see Walter following the path of money when Mama entrusted him with the rest of the money and gave him the opportunity to invest in the liquor store. Further on in the play we will see which path these characters will choose whether it is money or education.


  2. Well George and Beneatha have two totally different perspectives on education, on one hand we have George as Angelica pointed out ” doesn’t value education “. But on the other hand we have Beneatha she is very ambitious and passiontate about becoming a doctor and following her dreams. And Mama supports her decisions to have those ambition and supports her through her education. Beneatha foesnt seem to worry too much about money, but mainly aboit finding her true self and becoming who she wants to be. While George is sort of miniplulatied by his surrounds being “white culture” he’s not really in touch with his true self I believe. And he made it very clear that school doesn’t really have a meaning it’s just something you go though in life. The author wants you to think about these two umbrella themes as I see it, comparing how each character is influenced as the book goes on, being money driven or being humble.


  3. George and Beneatha are two very different people especially when it comes to their views on education. Beneatha obviously cherishes her education and all the knowledge it has given her. She loves to talk about everything she has learned and about deep intellectual topics. George on the other hand is the opposite. He gets annoyed with the talk of education and life. He sees school and books as just going through the process because we have to. Simply just going through the motions. He does not see it like Beneatha who actually takes in everything there is to learn. Angelica mentioned a quote from George that perfectly defines his views on education. “You read books- to learn facts- to get grades- to pass the course- to get a degree. That’s all! – It has nothing to do with thoughts.” Beneatha sees reading to learn and to have these deep thoughts. Beneatha’s perspective on education is that it is what makes her her. It is so deeply engraved and wrapped into her life. George could care less about the meaning of education. He sees it as getting a degree and that degree is your way to success. Hansberry might have included this huge ongoing debate on education in her book because during this time segregation in education was present. The book does not specify when it was written by Hansberry however it was around the time period of segregation. Segregation in education was a big deal with Brown V Board and influential people like Booker T Washington.


  4. I agree with angelica a lot. Bennie believes that education and reading are very important. she believes that it is knowledge that can be used for later in the future and can be used to create change. she gives a lot of thought to it believing that it can be very important for her life. in the other hand, George believes that all the reading they do and everything they learn in school its just to get a good grade but doesn’t really help when it comes to the real world. he believes that knowledge will not be used in the future and will have no effect on his life. Hansberry is showing the different ways the characters think during this time, one believes that knowledge is important to live and survive, while the rest believe that knowledge is important to get a lot of money which then will help you survive in the world. they prioritize money over knowledge. just like angelica said, later in the seen walter gets really happy about the money mama gave him and he begins talking about his dreams showing the importance money has over knowledge especially in this family.


  5. Bennie is provided with a young, independent, feminist perspective, and her desire to become a doctor demonstrates her great ambition. She goes on a date with two contrasting men who are Joseph Asagai and George Murchison. She identifies much more with Asagai’s interest in rediscovering her African roots than with George’s interest in assimilating into white culture. Bennie believes that education is to understand and finding yourself, while George sees education as to get a good job. The difference in their views about education displays a deeper divergence between the two. Bennie believes that society must be changed through self-knowledge and appreciating one’s heritage. George however, believes that they should become wealthy and perhaps achieve respect their economic status, which demands a certain degree of assimilation into the dominant, white culture. This connects to two popular beliefs from Booker T. and WEB Du Bois. Booker believed that education was more important to sustain the civil rights compare to Du Bois, he believed that all people of African Americans should work together in the struggle for their freedom and economical reasons. Which Hansberry does mention Booker T. in the story which that would imply that he was an influence during that time it was written.


  6. George and Bennie have very different views when it comes to education. George believes that education and going to school is something that you have to do to pass and to get good grades in order to get money and be successful and to have a good life. With this mindset he would be following the american dream. Bennie on the other hand believes that education should be something good you should experience and something that you should want to go through. She thinks that everyone should take education serious and important. She wants to take in all the education that she can to become a doctor and she wants to be successful but she also wants to earn that success. Bennie believes that education can help change the world around her and George feels that you should just follow the world and what everyone else is already doing.


  7. Beneatha and George have very different opinions on education. George believes that purpose of going to school is to get good grades, graduate, and then find a job that will make money. He believes that school is nothing more than a step one has to take in order to get a well paying job which he believes wil bring him happiness. Education to Beneatha is quite the opposite. She believers that everyone should go to school for the experience and not just a way to get your hands on money. She wants to use the knowledge she gains in school to help out others in need.


  8. George and Beneatha have very different views on education. Like Vanna and Tracy said, George believes that one should get an education to get a job that pays well. Like we’ve seen throughout the book, George has always had a materialistic dream which is money. He believes that getting good grades is the only way to get an education which should be used for only one purpse. Beneatha the other hand believes that getting an education is more than good grades and money. She genuinely believes that education is a very important thing that will benefit her in life to make a change in the world.


  9. Bennie is all in for the intellectual aspect however George idea of education includes wealth and actually acquiring the grades to back up that knowledge. Bennie sees it as the education and prior knowledge from it will help shape the world later on.


  10. I agree with Angelica that George seems to have a more traditional view on money and education. In a traditional family, it is heavily emphasized that you earn an education in order to provide for your family. George’s view on education is very straightforward and dispassionate , you earn an education, get a degree, get a job and earn money. Opposed to Beneatha’s view on education where you learn for the sake of learning and enjoy learning. George uses education as a tool to make money whereas Beneatha uses it as a form of self expression. I agree with Angelica that Beneatha is breaking racial and gender norms but she is also breaking the social norms in a traditional family. In a traditional family, the male is often seen as the dominant figure in the household (often the eldest male), where women seem to be more submissive and less outspoken. We know that Beneatha is breaking these norms when George tells her to “drop the Garbo routine”, meaning to know her place as a woman.
    This play has aspects of the author’s own life so it shows an argument of whether should we be satisfied simply providing for our family or should we further pursue our own happiness. The intent of this scene is to ask questions that her father asked himself when he made the decision to a white neighborhood. These questions are questions that people ask themselves all the time at any point in their lives. This ties in with the play because it relates to characters like Walter or Mama. Before the check, it was hinted that Walter had a job that he went to everyday in order to provide for his family. This was hinted by Ruth being surprised that Walter had 3 days of work. After his father’s death, there came the check and that provided a way Walter could use to be pursue his happiness and open the liquor store. Mama faced these two questions herself at the start of the play. She had money and had a home and a family so she was all set, she was not missing anything. She was hesitant to buy a new house at first because she had all she needed but she wanted more and wanted her family to be happy.


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