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A monologue from the play by Lorraine Hansberry
This play focuses on the Youngers, an African-American family living on the South Side of Chicago in the 1950s. When the play begins, the family is about to receive an insurance check for $10,000 from their deceased father’s life insurance policy.
Each member of the family has an idea as to what this money should be used for. Beneatha tries to convince her brother and mother to use the money for her medical school tuition.
When I was small… we used to take our sleds out in the wintertime and the only hills we had were the ice-covered stone steps of some houses down the street.
And we used to fill them in with snow and make them smooth and slide down them all day… and it was very dangerous, you know… far too steep…
and sure enough one day a kid named Rufus came down too fast and hit the sidewalk and we saw his face just split open right there in front of us…
And I remember standing there looking at his bloody open face thinking that was the end of Rufus. But the ambulance came and they took him to the hospital and they fixed the broken bones and sewed it all up…
and the next time I saw Rufus he just had a little line down the middle of his face…. I never got over that… What one person could do for another, fix him up – sew up the problem, make him all right again.
That was the most marvelous thing in the world… I wanted to do that. I always thought it was the one concrete thing in the world a human being could do.
Fix up the sick, you know – and make them whole again. This was truly being God… It used to be so important to me. It used to matter. I used to care.
Yes – I think [I stopped]. Because it doesn’t seem deep enough, close enough to what ails mankind! It was a child’s way of seeing things – or an idealist’s.
You are still where I left off. You with all of your talk and dreams about Africa! You still think you can patch up the world. Cure the Great Sore of Colonialism – (loftily, mocking it) with the Penicillin of Independence – !
Independence and then what? What about the crooks and thieves and just plain idiots who will come into power and steal and plunder the same as before – only now they will be black and do it in the name of the new independence – WHAT ABOUT THEM?