Notes on Characters from A Raisin in the Sun

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A Raisin in the Sun Major Characters

Ruth Younger: Ruth is Walter Lee's wife, a deeply emotional and old fashioned woman. Despite her true love for family and her husband, she has difficulty dealing with Walter's mistreatment of her. Ruth is pregnant and goes to a female gynecologist to put a down payment on having her unborn child aborted. Ruth is the family member most excited to move into a new home because she wants her son Travis to have a better life.

Travis Younger: Travis is Ruth and Walter Lee's only child and sleeps on the couch in the living room. He loves his grandmama deeply and buys her a large gardening hat as a moving gift. Although he often plays one parent against the other unknowingly, he has a close relationship with both Ruth and Walter.

Walter Lee Younger: Walter Lee is Lena's oldest child and only son. He is married to Ruth and works as a chauffeur for wealthy white people. He constantly feels as though the entire world is against him, especially the women in his life: his mother and his wife. He seems to care only for money and wants the insurance money to start a liquor store with Bobo and Willy Harris. Although Walter is obsessed with money and seems to ignore his family, he matures at the conclusion of the play, as he tells Lindner that his family cannot be bought.

Beneatha Younger: Beneatha (also known as Bennie) is Lena's youngest child and only daughter, who plans to become a doctor. She has two gentleman callers in her life: George Murchison, the wealthy Negro whom she dislikes intensely, and Joseph Asagai, the Nigerian intellectual who sweeps her off her feet. She constantly presents herself as a modern, black woman, with new freedoms and rights, and plans to find her roots both in America and in Africa.

Lena Younger (Mama): Lena (Mama) is the matriarch of the Younger family, controlling everyone's emotions and actions, and calling the shots on the future. The check belongs to her, since it is her husband who passed away. She cares nothing for money and only about her beloved family and life. She adores plants and carries her window plant with her to the new house. Although she scolds her children, she wants nothing more than for them to get along and raise happy, healthy families. She migrated north to Chicago from the South during the harsh lynching period for Negroes and cannot understand the modern ways in which people are heading. Everyone in the family looks to her for advice and love, which she openly gives with all her heart.

Minor Characters

Joseph Asagai: Asagai is Beneatha's African boyfriend. He is from Nigeria and wants to take Bennie back with him to practice medicine in Africa. He is very intelligent and stays close to his roots, causing Bennie to fall for him.

George Murchison: George Murchison is Beneatha's wealthy gentleman caller. He is true Negro wealth and has an ego to back it up. Although the Younger family appears to want Bennie to marry George for his money, Bennie despises his character and wants to be with Asagai.

Karl Lindner: Mr. Lindner is the white representative from the Clybourne Welcoming Committee. He comes to the Younger household feigning respect, and attempts to appear accepting, while secretly wanting the Negro family out of his community. He offers the Younger family money in exchange for their absence from his neighborhood.

Bobo : Bobo is one of Walter Lee's acquaintances. He is one of the men in on the deal for the liquor store and informs Walter Lee that Willy Harris has disappeared with both his and Walter's money.

Willy Harris: Willy Harris makes no physical appearance in the play, yet is mentioned several times as a no-good scoundrel. He is one of the men with whom Walter plans to open a liquor store, but disappears with both Walter and Bobo's money leaving no trace.

Moving men : The moving men come into the Younger household at the conclusion of the play and move their possessions out of the living room.

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