City Limits

Literal and Figurative Boundaries within the American City in John Fante’s Ask the Dust and Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun

  • Alice Bilger University of Edinburgh


This essay explores the idea of city limits, real and metaphorical walls, and boundaries raised within and around the urban environment. The focus is on American urban epicentres, and by analysing two literary works, John Fante’s Los Angeles novel Ask the Dust and Lorraine Hansberry’s Chicago play A Raisin in the Sun, it interrogates what form the walls within those spaces might take, why they are raised, and what effects they have on the city’s inhabitants – especially the marginalised groups who tend to be either excluded, restricted or enclosed by them. In this essay, I suggest that boundaries are created or enforced as a result of a fear of loss of space and power within the urban environment which leads to the consistent marginalisation of the Other as exhibited in both texts. In other words, the essay will demonstrate that the physical and fiscal boundaries represented in the novel and play are masking a more complex set of boundaries of racial exclusion and hierarchies in place within the American urban space.

How to Cite
Bilger, Alice. 2019. “City Limits”. FORUM: University of Edinburgh Postgraduate Journal of Culture & The Arts, no. 28 (June).