In A Raisin in the Sun, why did Lena give the money to Walter Lee to start the liquor store? Can Walter be trusted with the money? Why didn't Lena give the money to Beneatha?

Lena gives the money to Walter Lee to support his dream and save his life. Lena sympathizes with Walter's desperation and does not want to destroy their family, which motivates her to give him the money. Walter Lee cannot be trusted with the money because he is inexperienced and careless. Lena did not give the money to Beneatha because she has faith that her daughter will succeed in life without the financial support. Beneatha is not as desperate as Walter.

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Walter is a dreamer, and he wants to use the money to fulfill of his dream of opening a liquor store. He begs Lena to invest. When Lena puts the money down on a house, as she and Mr. Younger had always dreamed, instead of giving it to Walter, he is so depressed that Lena feels the money interfering with her relationship with her son. She caves and gives him the money.

Again, Walter is a dreamer, but that does not mean Lena could trust him with the money. The issue was that he had no knowledge of business and was obsessed with finding quick solutions for his family's woes, rather than planning carefully and making sure he was associated with the right people. Indeed, he does end up losing the money when the liquor store plan winds up being a scam. Willy Harris, one of his supposed business partners, takes it.

One of the people most hurt by the loss of the money is Beneatha, Walter's sister. She aspires to become a doctor. To her, the money represents payment for her education and a ticket to her bright future. When the money is gone, Beneatha laments that her future and her world had just been ripped out of her hands.

Lena instructed Walter to save a portion of the money for Beneatha's schooling when she gives it to him, but he does not. Lena does not give Beneatha the money directly. Lena is confident that Beneatha will succeed and feels Walter might need more of a push. Lena feels Beneatha simply doesn't need the money; even without it, she'll still make something great of her life.

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Walter Lee desperately wants Lena to invest in his liquor business and descends into a deep depression when she refuses to use the money to support his dream. When Lena makes the decision to put a down payment on a house in Clybourne Park, Walter Lee goes on a drinking spree and loses touch with reality. Walter Lee dramatically mopes around the house, refuses to speak to his wife, and is emotionally broken by his mother's decision. Lena recognizes that she has dismissed his dreams like "the rest of the world" and explains to Walter that his emotional health is her primary concern in life. Lena then comments that nothing in the world is worth having if it is going to destroy her son and proceeds to give him the remainder of the insurance money.
Lena trusts Walter with the money and instructs him to save three thousand dollars to put towards Beneatha's schooling. Unfortunately, Walter cannot be trusted with the money. He has no business experience, is associated with shady partners, and is an impetuous dreamer. Walter is simply a careless man without an organized plan and no experience in the business world. Lena does not give the money to Beneatha for several reasons. Lena recognizes that Beneatha is not as desperate as her brother and has confidence that she will succeed in life. Lena also views Walter as the new head of their household and realizes that supporting his dream will save his life.
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Lena gives Walter the $6500 that is left after she puts a $3500 payment down on her house because she wants him to know that she trusts him and will empower him. She says to Walter, "I been doing to you what the rest of the world been doing to you." She understands that Walter feels emasculated by the way the world treats him, and she wants to empower him by letting him know that she trusts him. Lena doesn't know whether Walter is trustworthy or not, but she knows that she has to show him that she thinks he's trustworthy if he is ever going to become more mature.

Walter proves untrustworthy, as he gives the money to someone who runs away with it. Although Lena tells him to put Beneatha's share of the money in the bank, he doesn't do so, and he loses Beneatha's money for school. In the end, however, Walter proves himself more mature when he doesn't accept money from white house owners to stay out of the new neighborhood the family is moving to. Though Beneatha is more trustworthy than Walter, Lena doesn't give her the money because Beneatha already has a great deal of confidence in herself. Even if she doesn't have the money from her father's insurance policy, Beneatha, Lena knows, will make something out of herself because she is confident, intelligent, and brave. 

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Lena was trying to respect Walter as the man of the house. Often, Walter is dominated by feminists in the novel. He has yet to take charge and run the family as head of the household. Lena has been in the leadership role as head of the house. Lena is beginning to see what this has done to Walter and his masculinity. Walter needs to be in charge for once. Lena believes that giving the money to Walter will heal his hurts from having been subjected to dominant female leadership.

When Lena gives her son Walter the money, he even responds by asking if she really trusts him. Walter is touched by his mother's trust in him. However, Walter still makes a bad business deal. He trusted Willy Harris. In the end, Walter loses all the money. As it turns out, it was a bad idea to trust Walter with the money.

Of course, there did finally come a change in Walter by the end of the story. He takes a leadership role and "comes into his manhood" as Lena calls it. Walter informs Karl Lindner that they will indeed move into the house in the white neighborhood. He promises to be good neighbors. Lena and Ruth are so proud of him.

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