Conflicts are a common experience for mankind. Use of conflict in literature has often been in literature to depict a situation which takes place in the society. In this manner conflicts have been used effectively to pass strong messages concerning critical issues in the society. Literature has been used to criticize some issues in the society especially when an otherwise method cannot be used. With this respect this essay examines the use of conflict to depict a period in the history of American nation when the African Americans were looked down upon and generally assumed not to be Americans but just as Africans living in America. In literature conflict has been defined as a struggle which exist been two opposing bodies. A conflict can also be a set of beliefs which are opposing to each other. The opposing forces or beliefs form the plot of a piece of literature. In most literacy works the conflict is always resolved by the either the protagonist force succeeding or failing. It should be noted that the at times a conflict is not resolved but the status quo is maintained at the end of the piece of literary work. This paper examines three pieces of literary works and tries to bring out the conflict which is depicted by the authors. Three pieces of literature works are examined two of which are fiction work and the third is a poem. The three pieces of literature have a common themes of poverty, struggle against white prejudice among others. This paper examines the commonality of conflict as displayed by the works.
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Conflicts in Literature
The three works which examined in this paper are, "Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, The Lesson by Toni Cade Bambara, Theme for English B by Langston Hughes." Raisin in the sun and the lesson are plays while theme for English B is a poem. The play and story have a rich display of conflicts as compared to the poem. Basing on the play raisin in the sun conflicts might be groups as man versus man, man versus society/nature, individual aspiration versus family aspirations, among others.
Raisin in the sun is a play based on an African America family. At the opening of the play the family is deceased and they are about to receive a check of ten thousand dollars which are as a result of the life insurance policy of Mr. Younger who had passed away. Right from the start of the play, just like the poem and the other play (the lesson), there is a sharp display of conflict. The adult members of the family have got differing opinions on what they should do with the money. While mama wishes to buy a house in accordance to the dream she shared with her husband her son is nursing a dream of starting as liquor store. Furthermore there is a third party wishing to use the money for tuition on a medical college. Beneatha is seemingly eager to join medical school and attacks both Walter and Mama for lacking vision and following the ways of the whites. At the very start of the play the author of this play as effectively showed the core of the conflict in this play.
The conflict rotates around poverty and how the family struggles to get out of poverty in attempt to be like the whites. It should be noted that this is equally displayed in the in the poem and the other play the lesson. For instance the student in the poem (theme for English B) struggles with the identity. At the very start of the poem the professor requires the student to write about his own identity which us supposed to come true then. We see a struggle of identity in the play raisin the sun being displayed by Beneatha as she struggles to find her identity by looking back at the past and to Africa. Unlike in the play (raisin a sun) the short story (the lesson) starts at a point where a group of friends thinks that they are the best around. This, as the story unfolds, turns out to be a very assumption made which they sadly realize after a trip to New York. Unlike in the play where the characters start off right with conflicts, in the story the play the character are gradually brought to the point of conflict where it occurs to them that it is hard to rate them on a comparison scale against what they come face to face in New York. In New York the author shows the sharp difference between the African Americans and the whites. At one point Sylvia wonders how on earth it is possible for a person to spend money on a toy which is enough to feed six to seven members of a family. Early in the play the efforts of Moore are shown and how she conflicts with the children in her attempt to teach the children what money is. The conflict is especially seen through Sylvia who initially considered the trip to New York a waste of time.
Raisin in the sun continues with scenes displaying high levels of conflict than at the start. There is a kind of agreement that the family should move to the big house to accommodate them all. After moving to an exclusive white neighborhood the family directs conflicts with the white neighborhood who seeming are not comfortable with them around. The sense of discomfort is so much that the white community offers to pay the family to stay away from the white neighborhood. Raisin the sun is a play which goes to a great extent to display the conflict that existed between the white and the blacks. Beneatha turns down George because she feels that he really does not know the problem of race. She opts for a Nigerian man instead. However the family does not manage to stay in the white neighborhood but had to move out. The family believes that the only way they can succeed is by staying together.
The play raisin a sun succeeds to depict conflict in among the actors in the way they perceive different issues. What is very clear from the very beginning is that all the members of the family would wish to be in the positions of the whites but they differ greatly on how this should be achieved. Thus apart from the display of contrast between the blacks and the whites the play shows the play displays great show of conflicts in ideologies.
The story 'the lesson' is a uses a group of African American to show some conflicting issues. Sylvia in the story and Walter in the play are used to show much of the conflicting issues. In the story the narration is done out by Sylvia and she is seen to be in conflict all though with Moore. For instance when she is given some money to tip the cab driver she does not tip him because she thinks that she needs the money more than the driver. In the play Walter is depicted as a protagonist. She makes a big mistake in investment and losses a lot of money though he still hangs on the dream. In the poem the protagonist is seemingly the professor. In all the three cases the authors have taken intentional steps to place the characters in confrontation fronts. In the poem the student is confronted by his professor to write a page on what an issue out of his heart. The issue is then supposed to come true. What the professor simply want is the student to write about a wish which he longs (the student) to see come true. The student is drawn into a confrontation as he knows well that whatever he wish to write on might not be taken lightly as it involves a confrontation with the white and the professor is one of them. The dilemma of the student is seen in the very beginning where he is seen to wonder whether it will really be possible to work on the assignment given.
In the poem the student writes in a very succinct manner. He kind of complains that being black does not mean he does not like the things that people of other races like. The student seems drawn to some kind of white and black struggle and further wonders the page that he is writing will be white but makes a conclusion that being a white the page will likely be black due to the fact that he is black. The student makes an argument towards the end of the poem. He believes that though the instructor may not wish to be part of him he (the instructor) is indeed part of him (the student). Through this poem the student successfully bring out the class difference between the whites and the colored. He is the colored student in the class. The conflict of equality is clearly brought out especially by the student insisting that all are equal. The poem can also be said to display some kind of internal conflict. The student seems to be confused and more often asks questions without answers. There is a possibility that he is trying to take up a new image of imagining equality with the whites but then he seems to be too deep into where the community has placed him.
These three pieces of literature works have a focal point in showing conflict between the blacks and the whites. The conflicts displayed in the three works cover almost all the parts of everyday life. In all the three pieces of works there are intentional attempts made to cover these conflicts. It is clear especially from the play and the story that poverty plays a significant role in propagating the conflict between the blacks and the whites. Ideally the conflict arises due to the inequality which is brought about by poverty on the side of the blacks. Poverty was depicted to deny the blacks many privileges. The blacks are seen to be struggling to attain the standards of the whites. In their struggle the issue of ignorance comes out clearly. For instance in the play Mama and the family members are not able to manage the ten thousand dollars they receive. Some levels of ignorance is also displayed in the story where Sylvia thinks so highly of herself that she imagines that she of the highest class economically but later realizes her assumption and is taken aback by what she sees in New York. The many decisions made by blacks in the play and story are always conflicting due to the limited resources available to implement decisions. In general an assumption can be made that the poverty made a great contribution in displaying inequality between the blacks and the whites and hence effectively brought about the conflicts which are seen.