The family is the basic social unit of any group of people or community. It is held in high regards thus it is somewhat sacred. A family consists of people related by blood to be precise. There are two types of families which are nuclear and extended. The nuclear family is made up of father, mother and the children. On the other hand, an extended family comprises of people from the nuclear family as well as cousins, uncles, aunts and grandparents. In A Taste of Honey, a play by Shelagh Delaney it portrays the family in a different aspect together with A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. These two plays have got a more different view on the family as it is going to be discussed. It is not portrayed as a sacred social unit of the community.
A Taste of Honey
Shelagh Delaney is a well renowned writer and her play A Taste of Honey hit the theatres when she was only 18 years of age. It is about a woman, Helen and her daughter, Jo and the kind of life and relationship that exists between them. Helen is brought as somewhat of a prostitute as she earns her money immorally. She is also a heavy drinker thus displaying that she is not responsible and does not care. Jo has a talent of drawing and it is just after moving in into their new flat that Helen realizes it. This therefore depicts their ambiguous and not so healthy relationship. This situation does not at all bring out the true appearance of a family.
During their conversations, conflict is evidenced between them. Jo refuses to go back to school and pursue her talent which is art because her mother keeps interrupting her school life. He is constantly moved from one school to another thus the main reason why she doesn’t want to study. She has in mind the thought of getting a job and earning her own money. She wishes to leave her mother after she gets the job and earns some money. This is clear evidence that the family is treated as not even a unit but as a wreck.
The relationship between Helen and Jo brings out a couple of themes displaying the treatment of family. These are: irresponsibility, anger, division, conflict, hatred and immorality. With this being experienced in the family, there is no way it can be a healthy one. Delaney therefore shows that a family is not entirely as peaceful and harmonious as it ought to be. She views it in a different angle and justifies that family is just but a name. Those who constitute of it are the ones responsible for making it harmonious and peaceful.
As a parent Helen should not be as irresponsible as she is. She is supposed to take care of her daughter.
Taking care refers to knowing her daughter’s needs and understanding her. This of course is in the sense of her daughter’s capabilities in terms of may be Jo’s talent. All these requirements of a parent though single are not exhibited by Helen. The fact that she is a single parent should not be an excuse for her not to take full responsibility of her daughter Jo. A family should stick together and its members should be responsible for one another regardless the situation. In this context the picture of family as being a unit where people take care of each other is tainted.
It can be deducted from Helen and Jo’s relationship that they are not in terms with each other. This clearly shows that they are not united. Jo’s wish to find a job and get money to finally leave her mother signifies that they are divided. Each person has their own dream and life that they want to pursue. From how a family is viewed in the real world, these two do not qualify to be one. Their so called family is one which is divided. It does not add up to the expectations of a real family.
From their conversation, it can be deducted that Helen and Jo are in conflict with each other. An example is where Jo refuses to go back to school. She is mad at her mother for constantly moving her from school to school. She in turn wants to get away from Helen. There is no peace at all and unfortunately no consolation either. They throw words at each other just anyhow. This is enough evidence to show their connection between each other is not healthy. Members of one family do not behave like how these two behave.
A lot of feelings are displayed in this play. Hatred is one of them. This is seen when Helen agrees to marry peter, a younger guy than her. Jo does not like this outcome of events. She therefore retaliates by showing hatred towards her mother and her husband to be. This leads to Helen leaving the flat as by now Jo has already got a job in a pub. She can now take care of herself. Jo just wishes things could be different but unfortunately she has to face the reality. Their family is not or has never been at its best.
Frustrations are what come to Helen and Jo most of the times. They cannot seem to agree with one another. Everything either of them does appears to be disappointing to the other. This is what sprouts up anger between the two. They cannot come into terms at all. They constantly fight thus displaying their anger against each other more vividly. Families do go through situations like this but not to this extent. There is simply no remedy for these two characters. They surely would have wished for a more stable family but too bad for them.
Helen is a drunk and the method through which she earns her money is not really the correct one. She gets money from her lovers. Through her acts in the name of acquiring money, she shows how immoral she is. For a fact, Jo does not approve of this but unfortunately she cannot do anything about it. Helen goes to the extent of marrying a drunkard just like her. In the end she is kicked out and goes back to live with Jo. The ups and downs this family goes are quite numerous. The condition of this family cannot be explained.
A Raisin in the Sun
This is a play by Lorraine Hansberry depicting the life of the Youngers, an African-American family. The family constitutes Mama, Walter, Mama’s son, Ruth, Walter’s wife, Travis, Walter’s son and finally Beneatha, Walter’s sister. Unfortunately the father of the household is dead. They are bout to receive an insurance check for ten thousand dollars which comes from the deceased Mr. Younger’s life insurance policy. They all have to decide what to do the money. Unfortunately they are not united to make this decision as every person has their own idea. This will be shown as will be discussed in this context.
The condition of this family is not as great as it is experiencing financial problems. However the family members display a high degree of unity. Even though they have different proposal according to how the money should be spent, they stick together. They are showing what a family really is about. They without a doubt display the true meaning which is behind the word family. These people do add up to the expectations of their family being called a family. They show virtues such as unity, thoughtfulness, love and care for each other.
Mama has the idea of purchasing their dream house which could comfortably accommodate each family member. She has the best at heart and is out to seek the best for the family. It is clear that she would not want or wish anything bad for the family despite being in financial problems. Her urge is to stay together as a family. Their dream family house would definitely achieve the goal of keeping the family intact. This is what family members should do for each other.
Walter on the other hand has a different idea as to how the money should be spent. He proposes that it should be used to invest in his liquor store with his friends. Though he has a different idea, his objective is not any different from that of Mama’s. He is sure that the investment got from the liquor store will deliver the family from having financial problems. This shows how mindful he is of others. However Beneatha has the idea of using the money for her medical tuition. It is not clear how this would help the family. She appears to be selfish somehow but this does not disrupt the peaceful nature of the family.
Ruth agrees with Mama that the money should be used to purchase the house. She has the thought of creating more room even for Travis, her son. Being that she is an in-law who is gladly accepted by the other members of the Younger family, this displays the amount of love they feel for each other. Most families do not seem to agree or rather cope well with their in-laws. The Youngers have managed to pull this one out. They have shown what a family is really made of.
Despite having a more self-centered idea on how the money should be spent. Beneatha also has the best at heart for the family. After sometime she discovers that she is pregnant. She does not want her mother to know as this would put more financial pressure on the family. She therefore opts for an abortion. Walter knows that her sister is going to have an abortion but does not do anything about it. He knows why Beneatha wants to get an abortion. They both have the good at heart for the family. The extent to which Beneatha goes that is to sacrifice her i\own child for the family shows the degree of love she has for it.
The Youngers are one optimistic family. Mama thinks that a bigger, brighter dwelling will help them all. She therefore goes forward and puts a down payment for the house at Clybourne Park, a white people neighborhood. It is quite unfortunate that racism is still a factor. The white people offer money to the Youngers for them to stay away. They do not accept the offer. This shows that they are not afraid of joining a white people neighborhood. They face this challenge by believing that they too are people and have their rights. They can choose to live wherever they want to. The fact that they are not welcome in the neighborhood does not shake them. They stick together as well as the idea of moving into their new house. Though Walter was betrayed by his partner who ran off with six thousand five hundred dollars, their optimism is not at all affected.
The two families displayed by these two plays are quite different from each other. Helen’s family is a wreck as she and her daughter do not have a concrete relationship. On the other hand, the Younger’s show unity and love despite having different ideas on how the money should be spent. The Younger’s are optimistic and they do not let any challenge they face bring them down. However Helen and Jo are victims of circumstances. They cannot seem to get anything right. They constantly fight for who knows what. The Younger’s however display the true picture of a family that is one which is harmonious and comforting.