Why does Mama slap Beneatha across the face?

Mama slaps Beneatha across the face because her daughter says, “There simply is no blasted God.” This statement shortly follows her saying, “I don’t believe in God.”

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In Act One, Scene Two of A Raisin in the Sun, Lena Younger (Mama), her daughter Beneatha, and her daughter-in-law Ruth have a conversation about the relationship between marriage and career. As the two older women ask Beneatha about her relationship with George Murchison, a man she is dating, she shrugs off the idea that she would marry him. Beneatha, who is a 20-year-old undergraduate student in a pre-medical track, tries to steer the conversation back to her goal of becoming a doctor.

The family members often express their doubts about the young woman’s commitment to this goal, as she has previously changed majors. One of Beneatha's objections to continuing her relationship with George is that he discourages her from pursuing her goal. She emphatically declares that she will become a doctor, “and everybody around here better understand that!” Her mother’s reaction, which is meant to be kind, is to qualify this statement. When Lena says, “God willing,” Beneatha responds that God has nothing to do with the matter and that she has become “sick of hearing about God.”

At this point Lena threatens to slap her daughter. As the conversation proceeds, Beneatha becomes more adamant, saying that she does not accept the idea of God—as just one idea among many—and that she rejects the notion that she would be considered immoral just because of this belief. After she says, “There simply is no blasted God” and that it is man who makes miracles, her mother considers her words, then slaps her.

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