She is a former faculty member of the Humanist Institute. Her civil rights work and writing career were cut short by her death from pancreatic cancer at age She was raised in an atmosphere suffused with activism and intellectual rigor. Her uncle William Leo Hansberry was a professor of African history. Visitors to her childhood home included such black luminaries as Duke Ellington, W.
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Act 1. He meets Dr. Marta Gotterling and Dr. Willy DeKoven. Tshembe Matoseh returns to the village for the funeral of his father, who founded the Resistance. He tells his half-brother, Eric, of his family in England, and they discuss the struggle for independence. Abioseh Matoseh, the oldest brother, returns from London. He is in the process of ordination as a priest.
Tshembe rejects Roman Catholicism, which creates a conflict of cultures between the brothers. Charlie is attempting to convince Dr. Gotterling to join him for a walk when Major Rice and soldiers arrive and tell them of a family who has been murdered by the Resistance.
Tshembe enters, and Major Rice searches him for a weapon. In a conversation full of tension, Charlie expressed a desire to transcend race relations and Tshembe cast doubts on the possibility. The Woman dances onto the stage and holds a spear out for Tshembe to take, a symbol of the urge he feels to join the Resistance.
Act 2. Tshembe discovers Eric keeps cosmetics and uses his sexuality to question his masculinity. Charlie and Tshembe talk, but Tshembe is tired of words and tries explain to Charlie that nothing can come of their talking. Peter and Ngago enter to recruit Tshembe to join the Resistance.
Tshembe tells them he will go speak to Kumalo, a national leader and negotiator, instead. Rice orders troops to be quartered at the Mission. Kumalo has been arrested, and Reverend Nielsen still has not made an appearance. Charlie tries to get Madame Nielsen to offer a statement on the conflict in the country. Tshembe now responds to the appearance of The Woman. Eric expresses his desire to join the Resistance, but Tshembe mocks his biracial identity and, again, questions his masculinity.
Charlie, Tshembe, and Dr. DeKoven speak, and Dr. DeKoven states that the charitable work he does enables colonialism. Rice announces the Reverend has been killed and then proceeds to kills Peter with the help of his soldiers. Ngago calls the Kwi people to overthrow the colonists.
Tshembe and Charlie speak for the last time about race relations. Madame Nielsen reveals Reverend Nielsen believed that God intended to separate people by race, and she recruits Tshembe to join the Resistance.
Abioseh seeks approval from Madam Nielsen for joining the clergy and telling Major Rice about the Resistance. Tshembe enters and shoots Abioseh. A battle breaks out, and Madame Nielsen is killed in the crossfire. Characters and Character Relationships[ edit ] The Woman: The abstract representation of the growing conflict in Africa and the growing conflict within the heart of the main protagonist, Tshembe.
She appears only to Tshembe as a decorated spear-bearing warrior; dancing rhythmically to war drums. She appears to him on two different occasions when he is confronted with the choice to join the conflict or not.
She first appears in the first scene dancing to the drums and raising a spear above her head. Tshembe confronts her directly at the end of a scene in which he has a tense conversation with Charlie Morris. He is returning from England where he immigrated and gained a formal English education. He is married to an English woman and they have had a child together.
Throughout the story Tshembe tells everyone, including the Woman, that he simply wants to honor his father and return home to his family. However, the conflict in Africa to include the Woman will not let him go and he is inevitably dragged into the mounting revolution. He has fully embraced the culture of the west as he is training to be an ordained priest.
He hopes that taking on this lifestyle will allow him to share in the power held by the white settlers. He argues with Tshembe over the well-being of their younger brother Eric; Tshembe wants Eric to return to England with him, while Abioseh wants Eric to come with him to potentially join the priesthood. The story uses Abioseh as a symbol of full assimilation as he has denounced his heritage to the point of betraying his own people. Tshembe symbolizes his inevitable joining of the revolution by executing him for his betrayal.
He is a rash young man with an affinity for alcohol usually provided to him by Dr. Willy DeKoven, Eric is an impressionable youth who is also caught up in the mounting conflict. He was the only one of the brothers to be with their father, the chief when he died.
Essentially orphaned, Eric is caught between his two older brothers who argue over who shall take responsibility for him. Madame Nielson: A sharp and intelligent older woman and the wife of Reverend Nielson who started the Mission forty years prior. Many of the members of the Kwi tribe look up to her as a mother figure to include Tshembe and his brothers.
When they were all young, she taught them and acted towards them as a surrogate mother. She is outraged by the encroaching colonial military, led by Major George Rice and pushes Tshembe into joining the revolution. This leads to her untimely death during the initial hostilities. Willy DeKoven: A dark complexioned doctor in his mid to late forties who has been part of the Mission for twelve years. He carries himself with a lofty air as he is hyper aware of how terrible the situation is and has essentially numbed himself to it.
Though he has an affinity for alcohol he is one of the wisest characters in the play. He shows himself to be very brave and compassionate while also seeming like he has given up. He acknowledges that the Mission, though working with good intentions is actually part of the problem.
Lorraine uses Dr. DeKoven as a device for background on the setting: such as that colonial delegations that visited when he had first started working there. He reacts towards Major Rice and his military forces with vehemence and bitter passive-aggressiveness.
She is the newest member of the Mission who has only been there five years. Besides the Woman she is the first character shown on the stage. She has an outspoken pride for the creative thriftiness of the Mission Hospital, which we find out from Dr. She finds her life to be very fulfilling and she is very protective of the hospital and the Reverend. She has a couple of conversations with Charlie Morris, which are rife with clever quips and sexual tension.
Nothing ever comes of it though. Charlie Morris: A middle aged journalist from America whom we see first in the opening scene with Marta Gotterling. He is there to report on the growing conflict. He has a nasty penchant for overgeneralizations that Tshembe dismantles in a conversation about the truth behind hate and racism.
He carries himself with an air of enlightened superiority while also being very willing to help. He reacts towards Major Rice with blatant defiance. He and Tshembe have a few tense conversations but they manage to find common ground before he leaves. Major George Rice: The antagonistic element of the play. He is the leader of the colonial military forces.
He represents both the oppressive colonial regime and is a symbol for blatant racism as he is always using racial slurs. He honestly and openly refers to the whites and superior to the Africans and treats them like idiot children.
We see this clearly when he is treating Peter like a servant. He is deeply suspicious of anyone who sympathizes with the African natives. Lorrain uses Major Rice to fulfill a few different roles.
One is that of off screen exposition i. Every scene featuring Major Rice leads to escalation of the conflict in some way; whether blatantly accusing Dr. Although he may be the Antagonist, he is doing everything that he believes is right for the people of Africa. As he mentions in his monologue in Act 1, he is doing this because the times are in demand of a leader against the "terrorists".
He confronts Tshembe while he is attempting to sort cloth and tries to encourage him, not only to join the resistance but to lead it. He also informs Tshembe that his father was part of the resistance before his death.
Whether this is true or not, it has a profound effect on Tshembe. In the end Peter, dies at the hand of Major Rice and a firing squad. This is one of the turning points that leads to Tshembe joining the resistance. Ngago: A charismatic war leader first seen in the scene in which Peter confronts Tshembe. This monologue serves two purposes: one is it is a war cry for the people narratively speaking, the other is to inform the reader or audience member , that the escalation has reach a turning point.
The monologue takes place immediately after the death of Peter. Reverend Nielson: The leader of the mission and the husband to the surrogate mother figure Madame Nielson. He dies off screen; a victim of the mounting conflict. In the fable, Modingo is a Hyena who is caught in a conflict between Hyenas and Elephants.
Biography of Lorraine Hansberry, Creator of 'Raisin in the Sun'
Act 1. He meets Dr. Marta Gotterling and Dr. Willy DeKoven.
Les Blancs Explained
Into this come two outsiders, both stepping onto the stage from the auditorium. American journalist Charlie Morris Elliot Cowan hopes to capture the country on paper. Though unable to throw off his white, western gaze, he comes to see the corruption and the complacency at the heart of the mission. For all the good they do, its doctors and teachers benefit from the imbalance and hold the country back. Written as the American civil rights movement was splintering into violent and non-violent factions — integration against separatism — it was partly analogous.
Review: Black, white and the gulf in between in Lorraine Hansberry’s ‘Les Blancs’
Family[ edit ] Lorraine Hansberry was the youngest of four children born to Carl Augustus Hansberry , a successful real-estate broker and Nannie Louise born Perry , a driving school teacher and ward committeewoman. In , her father bought a house in the Washington Park Subdivision of the South Side of Chicago , incurring the wrath of their white neighbors. The restrictive covenant was ruled contestable, though not inherently invalid. Both Hansberrys were active in the Chicago Republican Party.