Act II, Scene 3: Summary and Analysis

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Last Updated on July 23, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 828

New Characters:

Karl Lindner: a White man representing a resident organization from Clybourne Park

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Bobo: another friend of Walter’s with whom he has business dealings

Summary

It is moving day one week later. Ruth and Beneatha are packing. Ruth happily tells Beneatha of the change that has come over Walter; they are getting along better and Ruth is very happy. The doorbell rings and a White man they have never seen before is there. He comes in to their apartment, and Ruth, Beneatha, and Walter talk to him since Mama is not at home.

His name is Karl Lindner and he is from the Clybourne Park Improvement Association. He specifically represents their New Neighbors Orientation Committee. They are curious as to what he has come to say.

It appears after a while that the man is having trouble getting to the point of his visit. He starts off talking about how everyone ought to live harmoniously, but he keeps interspersing what he is saying with comments like “you people.” Finally, it is clear that he has come to dissuade them from moving into the neighborhood and is prepared to offer them money to change their minds.

As shocked as he is hurt, Walter tells the man to get out of his house. As Lindner is leaving, Mama and Travis are arriving. She asks who the man was, and in sarcastic manner, the family tells her why he came to see them. Unperturbed, Mama tends to her plant, which she is taking to the new house.

Walter and Travis then present Mama with gifts. A new set of gardening tools comes from her son, daughter, and daughter-in-law, and her grandson gives her a very elaborate gardening hat. Mama says it is the prettiest hat she has ever owned.

The doorbell rings again. Walter is frozen, unable to go to the door. Finally, he does, and it is Bobo, his associate in the liquor store venture. Although Ruth is apprehensive at seeing him, Walter asks him what good news he brings.

Bobo takes as much time to get to his point as Lindner did to get to his. After much agitated conversation, Bobo finally tells Walter that Willie, who was holding all the money for the liquor store and Beneatha’s education has disappeared.

Thrown into despair and confusion, the family tries to cope with this news. The scene ends as Mrs. Younger recalls, in utmost agony, how the money was from her beloved husband’s insurance. She strikes her son over and over again in the face until Beneatha stops her. The scene ends as Mrs. Younger is pleading with God to give her strength.

Analysis

The persona of Karl Lindner is a very disturbing aspect of this scene. As it becomes clear what his purpose is in calling on the Youngers, he takes on more and more of a diabolical shade.

It bears observation that a couple of pages after the NAACP is mentioned, Lindner arrives, spouting his own organization’s and committee’s names.

We are again greatly concerned about the Youngers’ struggle to survive. As if to underscore the horrific nature of the man’s visit, Walter says, dumbfounded: “Is this what you came marching all the way over here to tell us?” The mention of the word “marching’’ reminds us again of the marching roaches previously discussed, and the theme of tyranny, carried forward now in the character of this man, Lindner.

Lindner says a number of insulting things before he finally leaves, and even faintly threatens them as to some residents getting “worked up” over the move. We are reminded of lynchings and bombings at hearing his words. It is to Walter’s credit, and perhaps a sign of strengthening character in him, that all he does is order the man to get out of his house.

Another detail is interesting as well. Along with the gardening tools given to Mrs. Younger by her son, her daughter, and her daughter-in-law, is the card that goes with the gift. It says: “To our own Mrs. Miniver—Love from Brother, Ruth and Beneatha.” Mrs. Miniver was a character from a popular movie which 1950s audiences would have been familiar with. She was a heroic woman in this fictional film about an English woman who stood up to the Nazis during World War II. The card expresses the fact that the family is aware of the danger ever-present in their move, even before Lindner arrives with his message of hatred.

When, at the end of the scene, we learn that Willie has absconded with all the rest of the money not used for the house, we are painfully reminded that not all threats to Black people’s survival come from the wider society. Sometimes they come from people within their own community who have betrayed a trust. The pain the family experiences at all this bad news is expressed forcefully in Mama’s beseeching God for the strength to endure.

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Act II, Scene 2: Summary and Analysis

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Act III: Summary and Analysis