Home » (Dialogues) » A Quote. Of Gender. Of Feelings. Of Self-Assertion.

A Quote. Of Gender. Of Feelings. Of Self-Assertion.

Act I, Scene 2 of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun (1959)the middle of a conversation. Beneatha, a twenty-year-old American, is speaking privately with Asagai, an intellectual from Nigeria who met her at the university:

Beneatha. Will you call me Monday?
Asagai. Yes . . . We have a great deal to talk about. I mean about identity and time and all that.
Beneatha. Time?
Asagai. Yes. About how much time one needs to know what one feels.
Beneatha. You see! You never understood that there is more than one kind of feeling which can exist between a man and a woman—or, at least, there should be.
Asagai (shaking his head negatively but gently). No. Between a man and a woman there need be only one kind of feeling. I have that for you . . . Now even . . . right this moment . . .
Beneatha. I know—and by itself—it won’t do. I can find that anywhere.
Asagai. For a woman it should be enough.
Beneatha. I know—because that’s what it says in all the novels that men write. But it isn’t. Go ahead and laugh—but I’m not interested in being someone’s little episode in America or—(with feminine vengeance)—one of them! (Asagai has burst into laughter again.) That’s funny . . . huh!
Asagai. It’s just that every American girl I have known has said that to me. White—black—in this you are all the same. And the same speech, too!
Beneatha (angrily). Yuk, yuk, yuk!
Asagai. It’s how you can be sure that the world’s most liberated women are not liberated at all. You all talk about it too much!


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