A Raisin in the Sun

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Walter Lee’s wife and Travis’ mother. About thirty years old, Ruth was once “exceptionally” pretty, although an air of “disappointment has already begun to hang in her face.” Her demeanor indicates that life has delivered “little that she expected,” and, as Walter says, she is “tired” of living in their cramped apartment. Like Mama, Ruth works as a domestic maid and also does much of the cooking and cleaning in the Youngers’ home. Deeply dedicated to her family, Ruth tries to repair her failing marriage with Walter and worries about Travis’ childhood in the South Side ghetto. Aware of the emotional strains and economic demands on the family, Ruth contemplates having an abortion when it becomes clear that she has become unexpectedly pregnant during the play, although she decides against it. Ruth shares Mama’s dream of purchasing a home for the family.

Ruth Younger Quotes in A Raisin in the Sun

The A Raisin in the Sun quotes below are all either spoken by Ruth Younger or refer to Ruth Younger. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Dreams Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of A Raisin in the Sun published in 2004.
Act 1, Scene 1 Quotes

Walter: See there, that just goes to show you what women understand about the world. Baby, don’t nothing happen for you in this world ‘less you pay somebody off!
Ruth: Walter, leave me alone! Eat your eggs, they gonna be cold.
Walter: That’s it. There you are. Man say to his woman: I got me a dream. His woman say: Eat your eggs. Man say: I got to take hold of this here world, baby! And a woman will say: Eat your eggs and go to work. Man say: I got to change my life, I’m choking to death, baby! And his woman say – Your eggs is getting cold!

Related Characters: Walter Lee Younger (speaker), Ruth Younger (speaker)
Page Number: 33-34
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote occurs midway through a discussion between Walter Younger and his wife Ruth. Their son Travis has gone to school and Ruth cooks breakfast for Walter. As she cooks, Walter tells Ruth that he hopes to use his deceased father’s $10,000 life insurance money to invest in a down payment on a liquor store with his friends, Willy Harris and Bobo. Ruth is wary of the investment. She doesn’t trust Willy and Bobo and continuously evades discussing the prospect of Walter using his father’s money on an investment. She finally tells him to leave her alone and he reacts with frustration at both his wife and his own position in life; a black man in the 1950’s trying to provide for his family.

This is the first time Hansberry touches on the idea of dreams and dreaming in A Raisin In The Sun, as well as differentiates between the dreams of men and the dreams of women. This scene highlights Walter’s aspirations for wealth and thereby an escape from his family’s poor Southside Chicago life. He is filled with hope and a deep longing for financial stability. This moment also underlines Walter’s continual feeling of being out of control and at the mercy of others. He is a chauffeur for a wealthy white family, and his mother is the sole inheritor of the $10,000, and so she will ultimately have the final say. In the time-period of the play, men were expected to lead and provide for their families, so Walter, who is the only man in the family but neither the final decision-maker nor the primary breadwinner, feels emasculated. He needs dreams in order to survive and retain his dignity. Ruth on the other hand is pragmatic, as women had to be at the time. Her aspirations are less expansive. For her, survival means cooking breakfast, making sure her son gets to school and she and her husband get to work. Thus, she responds to Walter’s big dreams with the utilitarian and simple task of "eat your eggs." As a woman (particularly a black woman) in this time period, she doesn’t have room to dream the way Walter dreams.

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Mama, something is happening between Walter and me. I don’t know what it is – but he needs something – something I can’t give him anymore. He needs this chance, Lena.

Related Characters: Ruth Younger (speaker), Lena Younger (Mama), Walter Lee Younger
Related Symbols: The Insurance Payment
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote occurs during a conversation between Mama and Ruth. After breakfast, Walter exits the apartment and we are introduced to “Mama” or Lena Younger—Walter and Beneatha’s mother. She enters complaining about how loudly Walter slammed the door, and then goes through a series of questions and commands. She checks in about how Walter is doing and makes jokes about her children. It becomes clear that the role of mother is etched in her soul. This seems appropriate as she remains mostly nameless throughout the play, primarily referred to as “Mama.” In a moment alone, Ruth tells Mama that Beneatha and Walter have been fighting about the insurance money. Ruth then asks Mama how she actually plans on using that money. Mama dismisses this, but Ruth suggests that maybe gambling on the liquor store isn’t necessarily a bad idea. Mama asks why she’s changed her mind.

In response, Ruth suggests that she can’t give Walter what he needs; a chance to fulfill his own dreams. Ruth is exhausted and tired of working for hardly any pay, and in this moment shares that she wants more for herself, in the same way Walter and Beneatha do. Except as as more traditional wife and mother, Ruth's dreams are her husband’s dreams. She hopes to fix the problems in her marriage by helping Walter fulfill his dreams, and for this he needs the insurance money.

Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

Well – well! – All I can say is – if this is my time in life – MY TIME – to say good-bye – to these goddamned cracking walls! – and these marching roaches! – and this cramped little closet which ain’t now or never was no kitchen! . . . then I say it loud and good, HALLELUJAH! AND GOOD-BYE MISERY . . . I DON’T NEVER WANT TO SEE YOUR UGLY FACE AGAIN!

Related Characters: Ruth Younger (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Insurance Payment
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote occurs when Mama re-enters the house after being gone for several hours. Walter asks her where she's been, and she replies that she went downtown for "business," She calls Travis to the room and reveals to the family that she has used the insurance money to make a down payment on a house. Walter "turns away from all of them in fury" while Ruth, Travis, and Mama celebrate.

Mama then wails "Praise GOD" and asks Walter, who has been silent, to please be happy for her. Mama then describes the house in detail. Ruth asks Mama where the house is located, and Mama tells her it's in Clybourne park. Ruth is shocked, as Clybourne park is an all-white neighborhood. Mama replies that it was the nicest and cheapest house she could find. Ruth recovers and says the following quote with excitement and joy. She expresses her joy to be leaving their tiny apartment and screams goodbye to the pain and tumult the Younger family faced while living there. 

In this moment we see one of Ruth's dreams come to fruition. She is thrilled to say goodbye to her two-bedroom Southside Chicago home and move forward, to a better home and a better life for Travis and her unborn child. Here, Hansberry suggests that the decision to have an abortion was a product of Ruth's poverty, not her will. This is another moment of female pragmatism and self sacrifice for the family. Furthermore, in an act of empowerment, Mama has made the decision to spend the insurance money on a new home. She has solidified herself as head of household, something uncommon during the 1950s.

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Ruth Younger Character Timeline in A Raisin in the Sun

The timeline below shows where the character Ruth Younger appears in A Raisin in the Sun. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
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An alarm clock rings and Ruth enters. She crosses to the small window in the cramped kitchen area and raises the... (full context)
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Ruth’s husband Walter Lee enters from the bedroom, and almost immediately he mentions the “check” that... (full context)
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...mother that he is supposed to bring 50 cents to school this morning, to which Ruth answers that she “ain’t got no fifty cents” today. Travis persists in asking for the... (full context)
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...his wife and son, gives Travis a dollar to take to school, which greatly angers Ruth. Walter’s defiance of Ruth’s decision provokes further conflict between husband and wife. In particular, Ruth... (full context)
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Walter’s sister Beneatha enters from the stage-left bedroom in the midst of Walter and Ruth’s quarrel. As Ruth irons a massive pile of clothes, Walter badgers his sister about her... (full context)
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...to work. However, a few moments later, Walter reenters, fumbling with his hat, and tells Ruth that he needs “some money for carfare,” having given his last cent to Travis earlier.... (full context)
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Mama enters from her bedroom and asks Beneatha and Ruth about the argument with Walter that she just overheard. When Beneatha exits to go to... (full context)
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Studying Ruth’s tired face, Mama suggests that Ruth call in sick to work today, an idea that... (full context)
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...then mentions her after-school guitar lesson that evening, which provokes snide comments from Mama and Ruth, who proceed to rattle off the long list of Beneatha’s discarded – and expensive –... (full context)
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...says it will be George Murchison, a “rich” young man whom she condemns as “shallow.” Ruth disagrees with Beneatha’s dismissal of George, asking her, “What other qualities a man got to... (full context)
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...repeat, “In my mother’s house there is still God.” Beneatha acquiesces and Mama exits. To Ruth, Beneatha calls Mama “a tyrant” before leaving for school. (full context)
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Mama reenters and expresses her deep concern for her children, telling Ruth, “There’s something come down between me and them that don’t let us understand each other.”... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
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...supposed to deliver the insurance check that morning. After Travis exits, Beneatha asks Mama where Ruth is, and Mama says “with meaning” that Ruth has gone to the doctor, implying that... (full context)
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Ruth enters “forlornly” and confirms Mama’s suspicion that she is pregnant. While Mama is overcome with... (full context)
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...of the window and orders Travis to come upstairs. While waiting for Travis, Mama asks Ruth about her visit to the doctor, and Ruth’s use of the pronoun “she” to refer... (full context)
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Ruth reenters from the bedroom and, soon after, the doorbell rings, a sudden sound that signals... (full context)
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...to even consider the proposal makes Walter angry. As Mama tries to persuade Walter and Ruth to have a “civil” conversation, Walter and Ruth hurl insults at each other, with Walter... (full context)
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Mama finally tells Walter that Ruth is pregnant and considering an abortion. Walter is shocked but insists that Ruth would never... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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That evening, Ruth is ironing and listening to the radio when Beneatha enters “grandly” from her bedroom, wearing... (full context)
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...spectacle with “distaste,” he gradually warms to the music, saying that, “them drums move me.” Ruth ignores her husband’s drunken antics, but Beneatha encourages Walter’s behavior, fascinated and “thoroughly caught up... (full context)
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Embarrassed, Ruth orders Walter off of the table. He exits. Looking at Beneatha’s African garb, George tells... (full context)
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Ruth tries to make small talk with George while Beneatha dresses. George, fairly indifferent, ignores most... (full context)
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After George exits, Ruth and Walter puzzle over the meaning of “Prometheus.” Ruth advises Walter to ignore it, but... (full context)
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Ruth resignedly puts away the iron and clothes and prepares to go to bed. She apologizes... (full context)
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Suddenly, Mama enters the apartment and ends Ruth and Walter’s intimate moment. At first, Mama ignores Walter and speaks only to Ruth, asking... (full context)
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Ruth is thrilled with the news that Mama bought a house for the family, raising her... (full context)
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Ruth asks Mama where the house is located, and Mama, nervously responds that it’s in Clybourne... (full context)
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Ruth recovers from this revelation and regains her previous radiance, shouting, “GOOD-BYE MISERY,” and expressing her... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
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Ruth enters and Mama asks if Walter is home. Ruth says that he is and implicitly... (full context)
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Mrs. Johnson asks Mama and Ruth if they “seen the news what’s all over the colored paper this week,” eagerly telling... (full context)
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In a not-so-subtle way, Mrs. Johnson asks for a cup of coffee, which Ruth and Mama give her. Mrs. Johnson then asks about Walter, going on to discuss his... (full context)
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...who is insulted by Beneatha’s curt manner. After Beneatha exits, Mrs. Johnson tells Mama and Ruth that Beneatha acts as if she “ain’t got time to pass the time of day... (full context)
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The telephone rings and Ruth answers it. Mrs. Arnold, the wife of Walter’s employer, is on the line and tells... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
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A week later, it is Saturday, moving day for the Youngers. Before the curtain rises, Ruth’s joyful singing “cuts through the silence” as she finishes the family’s packing. Beneatha enters and... (full context)
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Walter enters, carrying a large package. Like Ruth, he is happy and exuberant. He places the package in a corner and puts on... (full context)
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...Lena Younger. She briefly excuses herself, closes the door, and “soundlessly” explains to the oblivious Ruth and Walter that a white man is at the door. They stop dancing, turn off... (full context)
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...the association exists to solve “special community problems.” The double meanings of Lindner’s statements escape Ruth and Walter, and Walter urges his sister to be quiet and allow Lindner to speak. (full context)
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Seeing that Lindner still looks uncomfortable, Ruth offers Lindner another chair to sit in, but “more frustrated than annoyed,” he declines. With... (full context)
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...“to buy the house from you at a financial gain to your family.” Walter and Ruth are both appalled, and Walter tells Lindner to leave the apartment. Seeing the “hostile faces”... (full context)
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...enter the apartment. “Smiling,” Beneatha says that Mama had a “caller,” and Beneatha, Walter, and Ruth “saucily” and playfully relate the story of Lindner’s visit. Visibly concerned by this news, Mama... (full context)
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...alone while she tends to her plant. Walter “sweetly” and “playfully” begins to sing, and Ruth brings Mama the package that Walter carried in earlier. They tell Mama to open the... (full context)
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...that he isn’t with him. Walter remains jubilant and is unfazed by this news, but Ruth is already “a mood apart,” standing “stiffly” in the background and somehow sensing “death.” (full context)
Act 3
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Ruth enters, followed shortly by Mama. Mama seems “lost.” She picks up her plant from the... (full context)
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Walter reenters and tells Mama, Ruth, and Beneatha that he made a phone call to “The Man.” Beneatha realizes that Walter... (full context)
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Still in denial of Walter’s intentions in calling Lindner, Ruth again asks Walter about the phone call. Walter says that he told Lindner to come... (full context)
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...says that the moving men have arrived. A moment later, Lindner appears at the door. Ruth “mechanically” goes to the bedroom and tells Walter that Lindner has arrived. After a long... (full context)
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“Coming to life,” Mama and Ruth fly into action, making the final preparations for the family’s move to Clybourne Park. They... (full context)
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Making final preparations to leave the apartment, Mama references Walter’s confrontation with Lindner, asking Ruth, “He finally come into his manhood today, didn’t he?” Biting her lip to contain her... (full context)