AP Literature Boot Camp Project

Raisin in the Sun
Tori LeRoy, Lauren Morse, Jessica Mou & Brittany Kilborn

In Literature, symbols often function to express something beyond themselves in order to provide a particular meaning to a piece. Symbols in “A Raisin in the Sun”, “Desiree’s Baby” and “Caged Bird” represent racial conflict and further explain the prejudices and tensions behind it.

A Raisin in the - Sun Drama Analysis

  • Money symbolizes a variety of themes in the film
  • ie. the check symbolizes the relationship between opportunity and self interest, for each family member money is significant in a different way
  • “Lindner’s deal” symbolizes racial conflict between black and white families
  • Mr. Lindner tries to pay the Youngers off to move out of the all white neighborhood
  • This "offer" represents the disapproval of the white neighborhood and their “welcoming committee” as well as prejudices on both sides when the deal is presented
  • "We come from a long line of proud people and this is my son...Now, we don't intend o cause no trouble, or fight no causes and we intend to be good neighbors. That's all. That's all I had to say. We don't want your money."
  • Lindner’s money also presents a choice to the family that makes Walter choose between familial pride versus conformity into the hands of white society/their racism

Desiree's Baby -Short Story Analysis

By: Kate Chopin

  • The baby symbolizes racial conflict between black and white families
  • Direct quote: Armand made Desiree and her baby leave the plantation because the baby turned out black and he thought it was through Desiree's ancestry. "The child is not white; it means you are not white."
  • Armand "avoided her presence and that of her child...and the very spirit of Satan seemed suddenly to take hold of him in his dealings with the slaves."
  • The fact that the baby is of mixed race it reveals Armand's disgust at the intertwining of the two conflicting races
  • The oil and water symbolize what the baby symbolizes to Armand
  • " [Armand] saw his child growing to be mixed [and] it changed his whole attitude." This demonstrates the racial conflict.

Caged Bird-Poem Analysis

By: Maya Angelou

  • The cage symbolizes a separation of races, the racism itself, and conflict because of racism.
  • Direct quote: "A free bird leaps on the back of the wind...But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage can seldom see through his bars of rage.
  • Literary Criticism: According to Sidonie Ann Smith, the symbolic cage Angelou describes is held together by " natural bars...reinforced with the rusted iron social bars of racial subordination and impotence"
  • And these bars make the point that in this time, "Being born black [was] itself a liability in a world ruled by white standards..."

And then a little something simply for your enjoyment...

Angelou, Maya. "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." N.p., n.d. Web.

A Raisin in the Sun. Time-Life Video, 1961. DVD.

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