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...
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.