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How would you describe the relationships between these characters: Walter, Ruth,...

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hhhhyhh | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 16, 2010 at 8:17 PM via web

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How would you describe the relationships between these characters: Walter, Ruth, Travis, Beneatha, Mama within their family structure?

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dneshan | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted May 16, 2010 at 8:51 PM (Answer #1)

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Each of the members of the Younger family has various aspects of their personality that make them an essential part of this play.  Walter Lee seems to feel as if he is forced into a mediocre job as a chauffeur when there are bigger and better things that he should be doing.  One of the characters that he feels has forced him to live this life is his sister, Beneatha.  He feels that because she is going to college and he is forced to provide for the family and help pay for her education, that she is taking away from his opportunity to go further in life.  Beneatha does not understand this at all; she is a character that believes that, as a woman, she should be able to get this opportunity and that Walter should be happy doing what he is doing.  This is a bit contradictory because she sees Walter as someone who should be complacent but she will never be happy with being just an “ordinary” person.  Ruth seems to be content with their life even though she knows that she would someday like to give her son a better life.  More than anything in the world, Mama wants to show her children that just because they are African-American, it does not mean that they should be forced to “settle” with anything.  This is why she takes her money and puts a deposit on a house in a “white” neighborhood.  She does not care how her new neighbors will look at her; her main concern is with her own family and making a good life for her children and grandchildren.

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 17, 2010 at 5:15 AM (Answer #2)

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I would say that there is some level of change that is experienced within each type of relationship over the course of the play.  For example, I would say that the first half of the play displays Walter to be quite impotent in being able to assert his own voice in the articulation of his own dreams.  Mama takes care of the money, Ruth the house, Beneatha her own dreams, and Walter seems lack vision and definition.  Over the course of the play, this changes as he stands up for his family and against the money offered by the Lindners.  I think that this change helps to display Walter as a man who is able to speak for his family and stand up for them, earning him more respect from all others in the family.

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