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...
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Act I, Scene 2: Questions and Answers
1. Which theme that has been raised before is referred to in the reference to roaches “marching…like Napoleon”? Who was Napoleon? What relevance might references to him have for this play?
2. What issue in particular is alluded to when Beneatha says, “All everyone seems to know about when it comes to Africa is ‘Tarzan’”?
3. What recurring theme is alluded to when Beneatha says, while talking about how missionaries save people, “I’m afraid they need more salvation from the British and the French”?
4. In terms of the imagery associated with the rat Travis and other children are chasing, what deeper meaning do you think might be conveyed by Travis’s words as to there being rat blood all over the street? You must “read between the lines” to answer this question.
5. What theme is reiterated by the fuss over Beneatha’s hair?
6. When Mama asks Beneatha where she is going, why does Beneatha answer, “To become a queen of the Nile”? Where is the Nile, and what great civilization in antiquity flourished on the Nile? Why would that interest Beneatha?
7. When the check arrives, why does Mrs. Younger just stare at it for some time before the family urges her to open the envelope? What is her reaction to actually seeing the check?
8. Why does Mrs. Younger say, “Ten thousand dollars they give you. Ten thousand dollars”?
9. What family problem between Walter and Ruth is again reflected in his saying to his mother, about his wife: “I can talk to her later”?
10. What impending crisis are we reminded of when Ruth says that Walter’s drinking behavior makes her sick to her stomach?
1. The issue of tyrants and tyranny is alluded to in the reference to marching roaches. Napoleon was a French emperor in the early nineteenth century who deposed the French government, declared himself head of state, rallied his military, invaded and conquered...
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Act II, Scene 1: Questions and Answers
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”?
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...
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Act II, Scene 2: Questions and Answers
1. What qualities do we see in George Murchison at the beginning of the scene that Beneatha might not like?
2. Why does Beneatha refer to him as a fool, when speaking of him to her mother? In what ways would she consider him foolish?
3. When Mrs. Johnson says, “I’m just soooooo happy for y’all,” do you think she is being honest or hypocritical? What later actions or words of hers either confirm or deny that she is speaking honestly here?
4. Why do Mama and Ruth roll their eyes before offering Mrs. Johnson the coffee? What do you think they are reacting to?
5. Why do you think Beneatha greets Mrs. Johnson so curtly? Why does Mrs. Younger object?
6. This question relates tangentially to the play and can be answered in many ways. What do you know about the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups like them which exist in the United States? Do you think they should be allowed to continue to operate or do you think they should be outlawed? State your reasons.
7. In your opinion, why has Walter’s drinking gotten worse?
8. Do you think Mrs. Younger made the right decision in deciding to give money for the liquor store venture to Walter? Why or why not?
9. What do we understand clearly when Travis asks his father if he’s drunk?
10. At the end of the scene, when Walter says he will hand the world to his son, do you think this will really happen? Why or why not?
1. George Murchison has a tendency to bully people (as when he referred to Walter as “Prometheus,” knowing Walter would not be familiar with that name). Beneatha is not a person to be easily bullied. So when it becomes apparent...
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Act II, Scene 3: Questions and Answers
1. Why does Walter say, “Even the N double A C P takes a holiday sometimes…?” What is the NAACP, and what does his referring to it show about his changing attitude?
2. When Beneatha answers him, “Sticks and stones may break my bones…” what are we reminded of?
3. Why do you think Karl Lindner goes to such lengths to talk about everybody getting along before he gets to his reason for talking to them?
4. Who catches on first to what his purpose in talking to them is about? How do you know?
5. What is so cruelly ironic in Lindner statement: “They’re not rich and fancy people; just hard-working, honest people who don’t really have much but...
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Act III: Questions and Answers
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?
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...
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