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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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