In the Younger family, Walter Jr. and Beneatha (Bennie) are siblings; he is her older brother. Both are adults: he is 35 and she is 20. As the only two children in the family, they are very close in some ways, but the large age difference contributes to a growing gap between them.
Walter’s situation is very different from hers because he married young, and he and his wife, Ruth, quickly had a son, Travis, who is 10 years younger than his aunt. In many ways, Walter treats Beneatha like his daughter more than his sister. Only some of this paternalism relates to age, with more of it inhering in his deeply held gender biases.
The stressful living situation in which all five family members co-exist, combined with their disagreements about the proper use of the late Walter Sr.’s life insurance, support the conflictual atmosphere that dominates much of the play. The genuine affection between the siblings and the light-hearted side of their interactions is shown in Act II, Scene 1 , when they dance...
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