Harlem Duet Character Differences

1301 Words 5 Pages
Happiness is something that everyone wants to have. However the road to attaining happiness is filled with obstacles. In Djanet Sears 's Harlem Duet and Lorraine Hansberry 's A Raisin in the Sun, Othello and Walter both struggle to find happiness due to their race, and their fragile sense of masculinity. In the end, Walter is able to overcome those obstacles while Othello succumbs to them.
One factor that hinders Othello and Walter 's ability to find happiness is their race. In Sear 's Harlem Duet, Othello wants to be respected by white people. When arguing about affirmative action, he tells Billie about his experience as a black professor. He says, "Every day I have to prove to them that I can do my job. I feel that any error I make only goes
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Where Othello wants respect from his white peers, Walter wants the money and respect that white people have. Neither person gets what they want. Walter is stuck in a bad job as chauffer instead of being rich and successful. Because of his race, he has a bad job while white people have good jobs. Walter, just like Othello, struggles to find happiness because he lacks something that white people have. In addition, Walter blames black women for his problems. When arguing with Ruth in the first scene of the movie version of the play, Walter says "That is just what is wrong with the colored woman in this world . . . Don 't understand about building their men up." Similar to Othello, Walter is frustrated at the women of his race. Both characters want something from black women. However, where Othello wants to be seen as an individual instead of just a black man, Walter wants black women to support black men. Neither character gets what they want from black women. Othello believes that black women do not see him as an individual and Walter believes that black women do not support black men. Both characters feel that they must deal with injustices against men their race of their race by women of their race. It is because of their race that both characters struggle to find …show more content…
In Sears 's Harlem Duet, Othello feels emasculated when he is not the sole provider. He tells Billie he feels, "unrecognized as a man (70)" in their relationship and says "I believe in tradition. You don 't support me. Black women are more concerned with their careers than their husbands." Othello does not feel like a man with independent women like Billie. Societal gender roles are engraved in his mind. When he is not fulfilling them, he feels like less of a man. His fragile sense of masculinity breaks, and it causes him to struggle with achieving happiness. Othello is also in an environment where he is pressured to prove his masculinity. While telling Billie why he prefers white women he says, "I don 't need more than one lover to prove my manhood.(71)" Othello said that despite the fact that Billie never questioned his manhood. Being pressured to be a man is what builds a fragile sense of masculinity. It sets up unfair expectations. When those expectations fail to be met, unhappiness follows. Othello struggles to find happiness due to his fragile sense of

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