Act I, Scene 1: Questions and Answers
1. Why does Ruth scramble Walter’s eggs, even though he says does not want them scrambled? What does this indicate about their relationship and about whether or not they try to listen to one another?
2. Why does Ruth tell Travis to get his mind off the money that is coming the next day? What does this indicate about Travis?
3. Why does Walter give his son more money than he needs for school? How does this leave Walter, in terms of money he himself needs in order to get to work? What does this indicate about Walter’s personality?
4. What rift is indicated between Ruth and Walter when she says to him, “You mean graft?”, when he talks of how he plans to get his liquor store license approved? How does this relate to the state of their marriage?
5. What do you think the significance of Beneatha’s name might be? What words does her name sound like? What might the author be conveying about Beneatha and her effect on other people by giving her this name?
6. If you were to draw a conclusion about why Walter is so concerned with how much money Beneatha’s schooling will cost. Aside from his wanting money for the liquor store, what might it be? Why might he be so resentful of his sister wanting to continue her education so far as to go to medical school?
7. Why do Ruth and Walter refer to themselves as “colored,” rather than “black”?
8. What personal struggle of the deceased Mr. Walter Younger’s is indicated in the following dialogue:
Ruth: Ain’t nothin’ can tear at you like losin’ your baby.
Mama: I guess that’s how come that man finally worked himself to death like he done. Like he was fighting his own war with this here world that took his baby from him.
9. Why do Mama and Ruth burst out laughing when Beneatha says “Me!” in response to their question about what it is that she wants to express with all her hobbies? What does this indicate about the times the play takes place in?
10. Why does Beneatha refer to her mother as a tyrant? What is a tyrant? Do you agree or disagree that this term describes Mrs. Younger? Why or why not?
1. The level of miscommunication that exists between husband and wife is suggested in Ruth’s scrambling Walter’s eggs after he says “not scrambled.” It will be seen throughout the play that a lack of communication occurs many times between Walter and Ruth.
2. We can see that Travis has some of the undesirable attributes of his father. While he wants to be a man like his father, which is to be expected, nevertheless he has some of the very materialistic values of his father.
3. Walter gives Travis more money than he needs for school that day partially to counter what his wife did in denying they could spare it (reflecting again the miscommunication between husband and wife), and partially out of pride, in that he doesn’t want his son to feel they can’t afford it. It can be seen that this leaves Walter without the money to get to work, so he has to ask Ruth for it. This indicates that in Walter’s personality there is a denial of the reality of their situation, as well as overreliance on money as a way of gaining respect, especially in terms of his concern that his son not think the money is beyond their means. These aspects of Walter’s personality will be seen over and over again in the play.
4. This brief exchange between Walter and Ruth shows their diverse values and orientations towards the world. He wants to expedite the obtaining of his liquor license by paying a few extra hundred dollars to the licensing people, but she calls that “graft” (an illegal bribe). This demonstrates how Walter has a Machiavellian approach (where the ends justify the means) to fulfilling his dreams, while his wife longs for a normal, respectable life.
5. “Beneatha” sounds like “beneath her,” reflecting the good as well as the problematic in her personality. On the one hand, Beneatha has very high ideals, leaving most people’s ways of thinking “beneath” her. On the...
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