Ruth and Walter’s marriage in A Raisin in the Sun is very strained for many reasons. One reason their marriage seems to be in trouble is that Ruth and Walter live in a tiny apartment with Walter’s mother, his sister, and their son. It is cramped quarters—the son sleeps on the couch, the bathroom is down the hall and shared with other renters in the apartment building, and there is very little privacy in this co-habitation. Another reason their marriage is falling apart is that Ruth no longer believes in Walter and his schemes to start his own business. He has lost Ruth’s trust because of past failures and his inability to be the “man of the family.” Walter, too, has lost respect for himself (he hates that he works as a chauffeur for a white man) and feels he can gain the trust of his family by opening up a liquor store with a friend. He, however, needs some money from his father’s meager life insurance policy that his mother has inherited. Ruth is against Mama giving Walter the money because she is afraid he will fail and lose the money. Finally, Ruth is pregnant, and she has not told Walter. She is worried about their ability to raise another child because there is very little money or room for a new baby in the small apartment.
Overall, the couple is going through a trying period in their marriage. They argue and pick at each other and do not support the decisions each other makes. In the end, however, we see Ruth and Walter come together with the news that Mama has bought a small house for the family. By doing so, Mama has obtained part of the American dream of success that Walter and his family so desperately want and need to mend their relationships.