Study Questions 1. What significance for their continued relationship do you think it has that Beneatha prepares to go out to a play with George Murchison in the dress that Joseph Asagai got for her?
2. What do you think has prompted Beneatha to cut her hair short and into an “Afro” hairstyle?
3. Do you think politics is the only reason Beneatha declares she hates assimilationists? If not, what could another factor be?
4. What does it show about Ruth’s awareness of racial tensions that in a casual chat with George Murchison she refers to bombings?
5. What do you think prompts Walter to assert that he has been to New York plenty of times when his wife flatly contradicts him?
6. Why does Walter launch into a string of insults to George Murchison? Why might Walter be so resentful of Murchison?
7. How do you think Walter knew that Murchison was insulting him by calling him “Prometheus,” even though he didn’t know who Prometheus was?
8. Why does Mama ignore her son when she comes home? What does this show… is the tension in their relationship?
9. What theme in the play is recalled to the reference to “marching roaches”? Why do you think the author put that phrase in the play at that point?
10. What quality do we see in Mrs. Younger when she tells her son, “When it gets like that in life—you just got to do something different, push on out and do something bigger”?
Answers 1. One would think it interesting that when Beneatha is going out with Murchison, she wears the dress Asagai got for her. This might be considered the beginning of her increased affection for her school friend, and the beginning of her feeling estranged from Murchison. This is a sign that things may change in her relationships with both men.
2. In keeping with her awareness of her African heritage and what we expect is her deepening feelings for Asagai (as noted in the answer above), we see Beneatha changing her image. What may have prompted her to do this is her friendship with Joseph, as well as her increasing pride in her heritage.
3. Before Beneatha declares that she hates assimila-tionists, George has said that she looks eccentric. Since George has disapproved of Beneatha in this way, we might well expect her to disapprove of something about him, as well.
4. Although Ruth is perhaps the most apolitical character in the family (she does not think in terms of politics the way Beneatha, or even Walter, does), her awareness of the danger of violence facing black people at all times is made apparent in what she says. The ever-present threat of the consequences of racism is seen to be on her mind as well as in the thoughts of the more vocal members of the household.
5. Walter, as we know, has a tendency to feel that money is the most important thing in life. Someone who feels this way might be expected to exaggerate his travels as a way of showing off. He also might feel competitive with Murchison, who is wealthy and highly educated. Feeling at a disadvantage in relating to Murchison, he might simply resort to untruths.
6. Following the line of reasoning in the answer above, it is noteworthy that many of the insults Walter throws at George have to do with the latter’s education. We are reminded of Walter’s quarrels with his sister over her education, and again reminded that he may feel thwarted at not having had a greater degree of education...
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7. Even though Walter did not know who Prometheus was, and even doubted his existence, he would have expected George to insult him, because he had been insulting George for so long. In addition, he sensed that Murchison was using the education Walter was insulting to get back at Walter in his remarks.
8. When Mama comes home, at first she ignores her son, because she knows he will not like any use to which the money goes but investing in the liquor store he wants to start. As can be seen in this, there is a great deal of variance in the way she and her son feel about each other.
9. The reference to “marching roaches” recalls the many references to tyranny in the play. This reference appears on the same page as the news that the house Mama expects the family to move into is in Clybourne Park, and we are reminded with this image of what the family will encounter (tyranny) as they attempt to move into an all-white neighborhood.
10. Although we have not seen this side in Mrs. Younger before, with these words to her son, we see that Mama is as much an idealist, in her own way, as is her daughter Beneatha. We understand where Beneatha has gotten some of her visionary spirit, and see the strength Mrs. Younger has shown to raise her family as she did in the face of racism and injustice.