Beneatha's Hair

1008 Words5 Pages
The You That You Want To Be For African-American women, hair seems to define them. Society dictates what is seen as beautiful, forcing many to conform to those views. Natural is seen as imitating a slave while straightened hair is beautiful like a white person. This struggle on how to style their hair faces many African-American women; it changes how they are seen and how they are treated. Beneatha, a young African-American woman is constantly judged because the appearance of hair. Whether it be her family or suitors, they all have different opinions of what is beautiful, causing Beneatha to waver between different hairstyles to make them all happy. However, Beneatha decides to do what makes her feel beautiful, regardless what society dictates.…show more content…
In comparing Beneatha’s hair to the African bush, Walter also shows the audience how society’s expectations cause women to assimilate. By letting Walter’s comment affect her, Beneatha demonstrates how her hair continues to define her. Additionally, throughout the book, Beneatha continues to touch her hair, showing how the author sees Beneatha’s hair as important to her growth as a person. By incorporating Beneatha’s hair into her many actions, the author continuously shows how Beneatha’s hair influences how she is seen. Because of her dramatic hair changes and bringing attention to the hair, it is seen to be a poignant part of Beneatha’s personal story within the…show more content…
ASAGAI (shrugging): Were you born with it like that? BENEATHA (reaching up to touch it): No… of course not… (she looks back to the mirror disturbed) (Hansberry 1.2) As per Western culture, Beneatha’s hair is long and straightened pointing to her assimilation. Asagai tells Beneatha that her hair is mutilated because it is not natural like he is used to in Nigeria. Due to her assimilation, Beneatha isn’t sure of her identity and wavers between wanting to embrace her cultural heritage or being accepted by Western society. The mood of the quote is one of extreme uncertainty, further showing Beneatha’s battle of identity within herself. Throughout the quote, Beneatha’s use of words and actions make it seem as if she is no longer sure of herself. When she asked Asagai what is wrong with her hair, it is evident that her thoughts toward her own definition of beauty are changing. Actions such as when she turns back the mirror looking disturbed are indicators that her assimilation and hair really bothers Beneatha, contributing to her

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