In Lorraine Hansberry’s play, Walter Lee Younger Jr. grows into a more mature person during the course of the play. Walter Jr. lived in his father’s shadow while the older man was alive. With his death, Walter Jr. wants to step up as the head of the family. Although both he and his wife work, their earnings are not enough for them to afford their own apartment; they and their son live with his mother and sister. Walter pursues the American dream, wanting to own his own business rather than working as a chauffeur. He pins his hopes on using the money from his father’s life insurance, even though he knows the decision about how to use it is rightfully his mother’s choice.
After Walter naively loses money for the business by naively trusting a friend, he is resentful and gloomy about his prospects. He opposes his mother’s decision to buy a house in a white neighborhood and tries to convince her to accept a buyout from the neighbors. The change in Walter, when he shows his own self-respect and stands up for the family’s right to live wherever they desire—not where white people think is appropriate—comes when he rejects the offer that Mr. Lindner brings from the neighborhood association.