Act 1, Scene 2: The following morning. Notes from A Raisin in the Sun

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A Raisin in the Sun Act 1, Scene 2: The following morning.

The entire Younger family, save Ruth and Walter, is busy cleaning the house, moving furniture out of place and listening to blues on the radio. Travis asks where his mother is and is allowed to wait outside for the mailman after he finishes his chores. Mama tells him that Ruth went on a little personal errand.

Walter Lee enters and calls Willy Harris on the phone, who is waiting for the check. Beneatha asks Mama about Ruth's whereabouts, to which she responds that she is at the doctor. Walter Lee is oblivious to this discussion, as he is only concerned with money. Bennie and Mama exchange glances about what they believe to be wrong with Ruth. "Now I ain't saying what I think. But I ain't never been wrong 'bout a woman neither" Act 1, Scene 2, pg. 41.

Topic Tracking: Family 5

Bennie answers the phone and, after much dissuasion, invites her male friend, Joseph Asagai over to the house, much to Mama's dismay. Asagai is a student that Bennie met on campus who is also a native African. This unusual patriotism confuses the Younger family and Mama admits that she has never before met an African. Their ignorance, given the fact that they are all African-Americans (before the politically correct terminology became standard), infuriates Bennie, and she asks her mother why she always gives money to the church to save people from 'heathenism.' The Younger family is a family of good Christian beliefs and Bennie's radicalism is difficult to accept.

Topic Tracking: Racism 2

Ruth enters the room and tells everyone that she is in fact pregnant - two months along. Beneatha is concerned that there is no place for the new baby to live and asks if she planned the child. Mama is appalled by such a question and asks if everyone's health is satisfactory. Ruth tells her that her doctor said everything was fine. Mama is shocked even further to learn that Ruth's doctor is a woman. Ruth almost collapses and Mama comforts her and helps her to lie down. The doorbell rings and it is Asagai.

Beneatha welcomes Asagai into the house in traditional African language and custom. He is concerned about her and her family looking so morose. They dispel their feelings about becoming serious with each other and then Asagai gives Bennie presents: an authentic African robe and records. He drapes it over her, telling her that she is more beautiful in her natural state, than with her mutilated Americanized Negro hair. He tells her in jest that, "Assimilationism is so popular in your country" Act 1, Scene 2, pg. 48. He reminds Bennie that she introduced herself to him so that she could find her identity, her African roots. Asagai reminds her of his affections toward her, once again, and she worries about becoming just his experience in America and nothing special. Mama enters and asks Asagai about his culture, using Beneatha's words. He talks about Nigeria and leaves the house, after calling Bennie by the pet African name of Alayoi.

Topic Tracking: Family 6

Mama leaves the living room after complimenting Asagai on his good looks. Beneatha looks at the Nigerian robes and feigns the role of a Nigerian woman in front of the mirror as Travis walks in and makes fun of her. Mama asks Travis to go next door and ask their neighbor, Miss Johnson, for some kitchen cleaner. Beneatha puts on her robes and plans to leave, telling everyone she plans to be Queen of the Nile. Ruth enters, claiming that she does not need to lie down. Ruth reminds Lena that the mailman will come at the same time that he does each morning and not to worry.

Travis returns with a small amount of cleanser. As Mama complains that her neighbor is stingy, the doorbell rings. Initially everyone remains still until Travis runs outside to get the envelope. He returns and holds it in the air for everyone to see. Once opened, Lena asks Travis to count the zeros to make sure there are enough. Mama has difficulty dealing with ten thousand dollars as a replacement for her husband. As Travis tells his grandma that she is rich, Mama claims that she would just give the money away, were it not for her family.

Topic Tracking: Money 5

In an effort to change the subject, Mama asks Ruth where she went that day, to which she responds - the doctor. Walter enters, obsessed with the money, and is immediately turned down by Ruth. She doesn't want her money going to liquor stores. An enormous fight erupts among the three as he storms out. Walter Lee claims that nobody ever listens to him, while Mama can't understand why he always leaves and should be happy with what he has. She says that it's dangerous "When a man goes outside his home to look for peace" Act 1, Scene 2, pg. 60. The mother and son continue to fight over the money and misunderstanding between the them. Walter tries to explain to her about wanting a better life and that opening doors for white people and driving them around is not a good life. Mama rebuts with her own feelings on the times when things were not always about money.

"Something has changed. You something new, boy. In my time we was worried about not being lynched and getting to the North if we could and how to stay alive and still have a pinch of dignity too...Now here come you and Beneatha - talking 'bout things we ain't never even thought about hardly, me and your daddy. You ain't satisfied or proud of nothing we done. I mean that you had a home; that we kept you out of trouble till you was grown; that you don't have to ride to work on the back of nobody's streetcar - You my children - but how different we done become." Act 1, Scene 2, pg. 62

Topic Tracking: Racism 3

As they continue to fight, Mama reveals that Ruth is pregnant and thinking of aborting the fetus because of lack of money and lack of love from her husband. Walter cannot fathom that his wife would do such a crazy deed, but as soon as he says so, Ruth appears, confirming Lena's words. She urges him to tell Ruth that he is an honorable man who gives children life, not a man who destroys life. She is shocked when Walter Lee is silent; she cannot believe Walter Lee to be her own flesh and blood after such actions and exits mortified.

Topic Tracking: Family 7

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