Act III: Questions and Answers

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 823

Study Questions
1.What do you think accounts for Beneatha’s deep pessimism at the beginning of the act? Do you think it is all because of the lost money?

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2. What qualities do we see in Joseph Asagai which enable him to break through Beneatha’s mood to consider her own self-pity?

3. Reading between the lines, so to speak, what does it say about whether or not Beneatha has really given up on medical school, when she refers, even mockingly, to curing “the great sore of Colonialism…with the Penicillin of Independence”?

4. Why do you think the word, “end” appears four times in the top half of page 134? What does this signify?

5. Do you see any symbolism in Asagai asking Beneatha to “come home with” him to Africa in the future? Do you see any meaning other than the literal one of her going to Nigeria?

6. Why do you think the word “dreams” appear so many times throughout this act? What theme is reiterated?

7. Do you think life can be broken down into the takers and the “tooken”? Is it a matter of “getting over” before one gets “gotten over on”? Why or why not?

8. What do you think Mrs. Younger is referring to when she says to Walter, “You making something inside me cry, son. Some awful pain inside me”? What is the source of that pain, in your opinion?

9. What resolution of conflict is apparent when Beneatha says to Lindner “That’s what the man said” on page 148? What new attitude does this convey?

10. In your opinion, what accounts for Walter’s transformation of character? From what source or sources did he get whatever it took for him to develop the courage he shows at the end of the play?

Answers
1. Although Beneatha is understandably upset about the lost money, her comments to Asagai about how the money was lost have as much to do with her frustration at her brother’s bad judgment as they have to do with the money itself. It would seem Beneatha is doubting herself because a member of her family could have been so gullible. That might cause her to wonder if she has also been gullible in terms of her idealism, her hopes, and her dreams.

2. What we see here is that Asagai has quite a bit of idealism himself. When Beneatha is most dejected, he insists she regain her previous values by giving her a little dose of reality, reminding her that some people are far worse off than she.

3. Even in her despairing state, Beneatha uses medical terms in her sarcastic analysis of the world’s ills. This tells us that on some level, even though upset, she has not totally given up on her dream of being a doctor.

4. Whenever you see a word repeated over and over again in a very short space, the author is trying to say something indirectly, trying to give the reader or audience an impression. What is conveyed here is both the fact that the play is ending, and that at this point in the work, the characters feel their aspirations are also at an end.

5. There can be many interpretations of the phrase “come home.” What Asagai seems to imply here, as he did with his gifts to Beneatha of a Nigerian dress and records, is that Africa is the original home to Beneatha and other black Americans, and that for them to “come home” means to get in touch literally, as in the case of her going there with him.

6. Again, the author is trying to relate something with the repetition of the word “dreams” so frequently in this act. We are reminded of the Langston Hughes poem (“Montage of a Dream Deferred”), and the warning at the end: “Or does it explode?” So much of the mood in the last act is of extreme frustration that we remember the question about what happens to dreams which are deferred.

7. This is a matter of your own personal opinion. Whatever your answer, back up what you say with examples and illustrations.

8. Mrs. Younger has referred to her deceased husband, and the life they tried to provide for their family, all through the play. One would imagine that her memories of and feelings for Mr. Younger are the source of her pain now.

9. The attitude Beneatha shows towards her brother for the first time in the play, with these words of hers, is respect. We see that the misery Beneatha felt at the beginning of the act has been replaced by a new respect for her brother’s courage.

10. There is no one correct answer for this question. You might want to refer to his steps towards transformation as mentioned in this study guide, or you might notice another source. In any case, whatever you think are the reasons for Walter’s new-found strength of character, support your opinion with specific illustrations and lines of dialogue.

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Act II, Scene 3: Questions and Answers