Let's review each of the primary characters in Lorraine Hansberry's play A Raisin in the Sun to discover their functions in the story and plans for the insurance money the family receives after the death of Mr. Younger.
Lena Younger is better known as “Mama.” Mama serves a steady rock in her family, and she has a particular dream for the insurance money: she wants to buy a house in a good neighborhood where her family can live and flourish. Mama clearly loves her family and wants what is best for them, and she is good at both holding her ground and being flexible when she needs to be.
Walter Younger is Lena's son. He a dreamer, and he always seems to be unsatisfied with his life. He wants more. He wants to be rich, and he is always scheming about how to make money. He wants to use the insurance money to buy a liquor store. Walter is more than a bit caustic at times, and he can even be quite obnoxious, especially when he doesn't get his way. He can also be rather selfish and is a thorn in his mother's side with all his nagging.
Ruth Younger is Walter's wife, and she is worried about her husband. She wants him to be happy, but mostly she wants him to be more practical and stop losing money. Ruth and Walter bicker a lot, and Ruth is often tired from her troubles and from the family's poverty. When Ruth finds out that she's pregnant, she even considers abortion because she doesn't know how she will cope with a new child.
Beneatha Younger, also known as “Bennie,” is Lena's daughter. She is in college and wants to be a doctor, but she also struggles with finding her identity as a Black woman. She sometimes clashes with her mother over her modern beliefs. Beneatha would like to use the insurance money for school.
George Murchison is one of Beneatha's boyfriends. He is a rather arrogant fellow who likes to compete with others, and Beneatha gets angry with him for denying his African heritage and trying to be too white.
Joseph Asagai is another of Beneatha's suitors. He is committed to his African heritage and teaches Beneatha about it. George and Joseph symbolize one of the choices that Beneatha must make.
Karl Lindner is a white man and a representative of a neighborhood group in the neighborhood in which Lena buys the family's new house. The Youngers' potential neighbors do not want a Black family moving into their midst, and they send Mr. Lindner to try to pay off the family to go somewhere else.