Abstract illustration of the houses of Clybourne Park

A Raisin in the Sun

by Lorraine Hansberry

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What is a character analysis of Ruth in A Raisin in the Sun?

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Ruth Younger is a thirty-year-old housewife with a monotonous daily routine. Despite a strained relationship with Walter at the beginning of the play, Ruth works hard to keep her family together. She’s willing to compromise her beliefs and values if it will help save her marriage. For example, Ruth contemplates an abortion because she fears another child will become a financial burden. She supports Walter’s plans for a liquor store even though she opposes his ideas.

Without a solid education, she relies on advice and suggestions from others to guide her decisions. She is unambitious and content with living modestly, and she fosters simple dreams for the future. Portrayed as a woman desperately trying to please everyone and create a positive first impression, Ruth is quick to defuse conflicts and arguments. After George Murchison witnesses Beneatha and Walter’s African dance, Ruth apologizes for their behavior.

Ruth never raises her voice in an argument and displays an inner strength that enables her to handle a variety of situations. She analyzes each problem exhaustively before making a decision. Only after Lena puts a down payment on a new house does Ruth dare to dream of a brighter future. It also enables Ruth to keep the baby.

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Please give a character sketch of Ruth in the play A Raisin in the Sun.  

Ruth is the long suffering husband of Walter and thus the daughter-in-law of Mama. She is also the caring mother of Travis. She is deeply committed to her family and to her role as wife and mother, but at the same time is also clearly overburdened by the stresses of poverty and trying to meet the various needs of her family and cope with their dreams whilst also holding down a cleaning job herself. She tries to support her husband by interceding with Mama and asking her to give the insurance money to Walter so that he can invest it in a liquor store, because she recognises how important this is to him.

However, sadly, during the play, Ruth realises that she is pregnant and considers having an abortion, which was illegal at the time, because of the family's poverty. Her decision to keep this child can be seen as a symbolic act of hope in a brighter and better future for her unborn child that is linked to the family's new-found unity and decision to move to their own house.

Thus when we think of Ruth, we often see her as a peacemaker, as an intermediary between other characters, and as a character who is passionately committed to moving and making a better life for her family.

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