What is the relationship between Walter and Beneatha in The Raisin in the Sun?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Walter and Beneatha do not get along for several reasons. They disagree about how Mama will use the insurance money she is about to receive. Beneatha tells Walter, "That money belongs to Mama, Walter, and it's for her to decide how she wants to use it" (page 36). Walter believes Beneatha covets Mama's money for medical school, while Walter wants to buy a liquor store with the money. It's also clear that Walter resents Beneatha because he has to work while she's at school. 

Walter and Beneatha have very difficult values and goals. While Beneatha wants to be a doctor, Walter believes that women should stick to traditional gender roles. He says to her:

"Who the hell told you you had to be a doctor? If you so crazy 'bout messing 'round with sick people--then go be a nurse like other women--or just get married and be quiet..." (page 38).

Beneatha thinks that Walter sells out to white people when he agrees to give up the idea of moving to a new, white neighborhood in exchange for money. She says, "Where is the real honest-to-God bottom so he can't go any farther!" (page 142). Walter, on the other hand, does not at first appear to believe in Beneatha's fight for African-American rights and says, "There ain't no causes--there ain't nothing but taking in this world" (page 143). Walter seems to believe only in money, but, in the end, he refuses to take the white man's money and decides to pursue moving to the white neighborhood. In the end, he and Beneatha both want to advance African-American rights and to stand up for themselves and their family. 

lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Walter and Beneatha have a strained relationship. They quarrel constantly. Walter is upset that his mother wants to give Beneatha college money to become a doctor. He thinks Beneatha is dreaming and should have more realistic goals.

Beneatha feels that Walter is a loser. She does not respect him. She does not understand him. Even though she is his sister, they are totally opposites. Beneatha has extreme goals and high expectations. She is determined to be a doctor.

Walter belittles Beneatha's dream. He tells her to consider being a nurse, but not a doctor. He thinks he is being realistic, living in a white man's world.

At the same time, Walter has a dream of becoming a businessman. Beneatha does not support Walter in his dream. She also thinks he is not the business type.

Beneatha thinks Walter hangs around the wrong crowd. His friends are men such as Bobo and Willy Harris. Beneatha does feel she is superior to Walter in her dreams. She does not see how much Walter is hurting.

Mama points this out to Beneatha. She tells her she should love Walter more because he is hurting, feeling lost in a white man's world.

By the end of the story, Walter comes into his manhood and tells the white welcoming committee that they are indeed moving into the white neighborhood. Finally, Beneatha respects Walter for standing his ground and, for once, making the right decision.

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A Raisin in the Sun

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