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

The relationships between the characters are tense, although ultimately it is clear that they love one another. Walter and Ruth’s relationship is marred by their poverty and Walter’s disappointments, which also overshadows his relationships with Mama and Beneathea. Ruth sides with Mama, recognizing the benefits a house would yield. Beneatha’s desire to use the money herself and her disdain for their assimilation creates further tension. Travis is young and often lives in his own world.

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As in most families, the relationships between the characters of Walter, Ruth, Travis, Beneatha , and Mama are complicated. They are often tense and difficult even though by the end, it is clear that the characters love one another. Walter and Ruth’s relationship is marred by their...

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As in most families, the relationships between the characters of Walter, Ruth, Travis, Beneatha, and Mama are complicated. They are often tense and difficult even though by the end, it is clear that the characters love one another. Walter and Ruth’s relationship is marred by their poverty, as well as by Walter’s general disappointment with his life and his bitterness that he has not attained any of the goals that he strives to reach. His passion to be independent and open a liquor store with Bobo overshadows his relationships with his loved ones, including his wife, mother and sister.

Walter's resentment over his fairly menial job also extends to resentment over his mother’s initial unwillingness to give him the money from the insurance policy she held on his father. It results in resentment over his sister’s seemingly greater opportunities, as she aspires to finish her education and become a professional. Finally, it overhangs his relationship with his wife, who has to deal with tension every day because of Walter’s unhappiness and the constrained financial circumstances that causes them to live in such cramped space.

It is not a coincidence that Ruth's name is also an allusion to the Biblical Ruth who followed her mother-in-law. When Mama is caught between wanting to help her son and realizing her own dream of owning a home, Ruth in the Younger family sides with her mother-in-law over how to use the insurance money. She also confides in Mama as if she were her own mother and not her mother-in-law. Ruth also recognizes that the house would be beneficial for the entire family. She and Walter would have more space, which would probably be good for their relationship, and Travis would have a backyard in which to play.

Beneatha is very involved in her own life and her discovery of her roots, and this occupies much of her thoughts and feelings. She and Walter each want the insurance money to fund their goals, which creates tension between them. Moreover, her disdain at what she sees as the family's assimilation into American culture creates an added tension between the siblings, including between her and Ruth.

As a young child, Travis often seems oblivious to what is going on in his family.

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Walter Jr. is depicted as an extremely ambitious, unfulfilled man who feels that his wife, mother, and sister do not support his dream of entering the liquor store business and attaining financial stability. His marriage suffers because of his unfulfilled dreams, and he initially resents Lena for not giving him the insurance money to invest in his business plan. He is also portrayed as a capricious, selfish individual whose mood dramatically changes throughout the play and whose actions drastically affect his family's stability.

Ruth is portrayed as a loyal wife who struggles to make her husband happy. She gets along well with Lena and shares her same dream of moving out of the cramped South Side apartment. She is also depicted as a loving mother who wants what is best for Travis. Beneatha is Walter's independent, intelligent sister, and the two siblings continually argue because of their different interests and beliefs. Beneatha is depicted as a progressive, educated woman and struggles to see eye-to-eye with her conservative mother. Lena is the head of the household, and her main concern is keeping her family together and upgrading their living situation. She eventually gives the majority of the insurance money to Walter to support his dream and tries her best to view situations from Beneatha's perspective. Lena simply wants what is best for her family, and their well-being is her main concern. Travis is Walter and Ruth's adolescent son; he is a lively, enthusiastic young boy.

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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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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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