How is Willy Harris important to Walter's goals and ambition?

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price7781 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Walter has goals and ambitions like anyone; however, he feels emasculated or less than a man because being black in the 1950’s has limited his opportunities to succeed.  Walter works as a chauffeur for a white man, a service job that limits his earning power and his ability to get ahead.  Walter feels stuck, and in order to feel like the man of the family, Walter thinks up “get rich quick” schemes in hopes of being his own boss.  Walter wants to provide for his family and be a role model for his young son.  Along with Willy Harris and Walter’s friend, Bobo, they learn of an opportunity to buy a liquor store. The only catch is that Walter needs $10,000 from his father’s life insurance policy to become a partner in the venture.  Mama Younger does give Walter some money, but Willy Harris runs off with it dashing Walter’s dreams to be his own man. 

Willy Harris represents another disappointment for Walter because Walter is unable to fulfill his dreams.  Willy is just another person in society who mistreats and takes advantage of Walter.  Walter can’t even count on his friends for a break, and it is extremely disappointing because all Walter wants is to feel important and powerful in his family and society.