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How does the speaker build ethos in A Raisin in the Sun?
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In A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry uses ethos to try to appeal to the audience’s moral standards and to get them to make moral decisions about what is happening in the play. Let’s look at some of the ways in which she does this.
Ethos is an appeal to morals or customs to try to convince someone. In the play, the audience can understand almost at once that Mama has high moral standards. She is a God-fearing woman who wants what is best for her family, and this is designed to draw the audience to her and make us sympathize with her.
On the other hand, Walter’s morals seem to be less than stellar. He comes across as quite a selfish person who wants to pursue his personal dreams at the expense of his family. He wants to use the insurance money to buy a liquor store, which ends up yet another in his string of failed attempts.
Mama, however, wants to buy a new home for the whole family, someplace where they can spread out yet still be together. She chooses a home in a white neighborhood, and here we find another appeal to ethos. The neighbors do not want Mama and her family to move in. They do everything to encourage her to give up the dream, including a pay off and minimally veiled threats. Mama holds her ground, and we are left to confront issues of segregation and racism. In the end, Mama and her family are going to move into their new home. They will not be driven off even though they will face more hardships, and we cannot help but admire their courage.
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