A Raisin in the Sun

Beneatha Younger Character Analysis

Nicknamed “Bennie,” Beneatha is Mama’s daughter and Walter Lee’s younger sister. A twenty-year-old college student with dreams of becoming a doctor, Beneatha is “as slim and intense as her brother,” with an “intellectual face.” Beneatha holds modern views on gender and shows great interest in her African heritage. The most educated member of the Younger family, Beneatha is not afraid to butt heads with Mama, Walter, and others when it comes to her opinions on religion, feminism, and racial assimilation. She dreams of becoming a doctor, and believes that she should have the right to express herself, a concept foreign to the other women in the play. Beneatha’s way of speaking is different from the rest of her family’s speech, characterized by her education and a Midwestern rather than a Southern accent.

Beneatha Younger Quotes in A Raisin in the Sun

The A Raisin in the Sun quotes below are all either spoken by Beneatha Younger or refer to Beneatha 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: Who the hell told you you had to be a doctor? If you so crazy ‘bout messing ‘round with sick people – then go be a nurse like other women – or just get married and be quiet . . .
Beneatha: Well – you finally got it said . . . It took you three years but you finally got it said.

Related Characters: Walter Lee Younger (speaker), Beneatha Younger (speaker)
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

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Mama: What is it you want to express?
Beneatha: Me! Don’t worry – I don’t expect you to understand.

Related Characters: Lena Younger (Mama) (speaker), Beneatha Younger (speaker)
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

Asagai: You wear it well . . . very well . . . mutilated hair and all.
Beneatha: My hair – what’s wrong with my hair?
Asagai: Were you born with it like that?
Beneatha: No . . . of course not.

Related Characters: Beneatha Younger (speaker), Joseph Asagai (speaker)
Related Symbols: Beneatha’s Hair
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3 Quotes

Independence and then what? What about all the crooks and thieves and just plain idiots who will come into power and steal and plunder the same as before – only now they will be black and do it in the name of the new Independence – WHAT ABOUT THEM?!

Related Characters: Beneatha Younger (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Insurance Payment
Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:

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Then isn’t there something wrong in a house – in a world! – where all dreams, good or bad, must depend on the death of a man? I never thought to see you like this, Alaiyo.

Related Characters: Joseph Asagai (speaker), Beneatha Younger
Related Symbols: The Insurance Payment
Page Number: 135
Explanation and Analysis:

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Have you cried for that boy today? I don’t mean for yourself and for the family ‘cause we lost the money. I mean for him: what he been through and what it done to him. Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most? When they done good and made things easy for everybody? Well then, you ain’t through learning – because that ain’t the time at all. It’s when he’s at his lowest and can’t believe in hisself ‘cause the world done whipped him so!

Related Characters: Lena Younger (Mama) (speaker), Walter Lee Younger, Beneatha Younger
Related Symbols: The Insurance Payment
Page Number: 145
Explanation and Analysis:

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Beneatha Younger Character Timeline in A Raisin in the Sun

The timeline below shows where the character Beneatha 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
Dreams Theme Icon
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
Walter’s sister Beneatha enters from the stage-left bedroom in the midst of Walter and Ruth’s quarrel. As Ruth... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
...a doctor in favor of being “a nurse like other women,” or simply getting married. Beneatha responds by telling Walter, “Thee is mad, boy.” Following his argument with Beneatha, Walter “slams... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
Mama enters from her bedroom and asks Beneatha and Ruth about the argument with Walter that she just overheard. When Beneatha exits to... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
...husband’s recent death. Mama declares that some of the money must be set aside for Beneatha’s schooling. As for the remaining amount, Mama “tentatively” begins to tell Ruth of her and... (full context)
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
Beneatha returns from the bathroom and angers Mama by “reciting the scriptures in vain” when she... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
Mama then changes the subject to Beneatha’s love life, asking whom she will go on a date with tomorrow night. “With displeasure,”... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
After recovering from the shock of Beneatha’s comment, Mama says that Beneatha will certainly fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor, “God... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
The following Saturday morning Beneatha and Mama clean the apartment thoroughly, a regular occurrence in the Younger household. Travis asks... (full context)
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Beneatha answers the phone and has a brief conversation with her classmate, Joseph Asagai, who asks... (full context)
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
...and confirms Mama’s suspicion that she is pregnant. While Mama is overcome with “grandmotherly enthusiasm,” Beneatha and Ruth worry about the financial strain that a child will place on the family.... (full context)
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Suddenly, there is a “commotion” in the street, and Beneatha calls out of the window and orders Travis to come upstairs. While waiting for Travis,... (full context)
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Asagai notices that Beneatha looks rattled and asks if something is wrong, to which Beneatha says, “Yes . .... (full context)
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Before Asagai can exit, Mama reenters and Beneatha introduces her to Asagai. Honoring her promise to Beneatha, Mama refrains from asking Asagai ignorant... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
As he goes to exit, Asagai calls Beneatha by a Yoruba nickname, “Alaiyo.” Mama and Beneatha ask about the meaning of the nickname,... (full context)
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Beneatha gazes at herself in the mirror and “clutches at her hair,” squinting her eyes “as... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
That evening, Ruth is ironing and listening to the radio when Beneatha enters “grandly” from her bedroom, wearing the robes and headdress that Asagai gave her that... (full context)
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Walter enters during Beneatha’s “performance” and he is clearly drunk. Although he first watches the spectacle with “distaste,” he... (full context)
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Embarrassed, Ruth orders Walter off of the table. He exits. Looking at Beneatha’s African garb, George tells Beneatha to go dress properly for their date, snidely saying that... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
Ruth tries to make small talk with George while Beneatha dresses. George, fairly indifferent, ignores most of Ruth’s chitchat, only commenting in order to display... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
...ants!” Walter expresses his frustration that “not even my own mother” supports his dreams, but Beneatha’s reentrance puts an abrupt stop to his complaints. Beneatha and George leave, and George sarcastically... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
On a Friday night a few weeks later, George and Beneatha enter the apartment after a date. Packing crates, signifying the family’s upcoming move, dot the... (full context)
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Mama asks Beneatha about her date, and Beneatha responds by telling her mother that, “George is a fool.”... (full context)
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Wearing a bathrobe, Beneatha enters from her bedroom and heads to the bathroom. On her way, she “crisply” says... (full context)
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
...a good plow hand.” Mama responds by calling Washington a “fool.” Offended, Mrs. Johnson exits. Beneatha reenters and Mama lightly scolds her behavior towards Mrs. Johnson, to which Beneatha responds, “If... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
...insurance payment to Walter. She tells him to put $3,000 in a savings account for Beneatha’s schooling but gives him complete control over how to spend the rest of the money.... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
Dreams Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
...curtain rises, Ruth’s joyful singing “cuts through the silence” as she finishes the family’s packing. Beneatha enters and Ruth happily shows her some curtains that she bought for the new house.... (full context)
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
...a record. He and Ruth begin to dance “a classic, body-melding ‘slow drag,’” which prompts Beneatha to call them “old-fashioned [Negroes].” Continuing to dance, Walter playfully tells his sister, “Damn, even... (full context)
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
The man tells Beneatha that he is looking for Lena Younger. She briefly excuses herself, closes the door, and... (full context)
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
As Lindner sits and begins to explain the purpose of the Clybourne Park Improvement Association, Beneatha grows suspicious of Lindner’s explanation that the association exists to solve “special community problems.” The... (full context)
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
...– but we are trying to do something about it.” This seemingly open-minded statement piques Beneatha’s interest and she begins to listen with “genuine interest.” (full context)
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
With this evidence of Lindner’s true motive in visiting the family, Beneatha bitterly denounces the so-called “Welcoming Committee.” Walter is “dumbfounded.” Lindner adds that the association is... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Mama and Travis enter the apartment. “Smiling,” Beneatha says that Mama had a “caller,” and Beneatha, Walter, and Ruth “saucily” and playfully relate... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Beneatha “laughingly” notices that Mama is carefully tending to her plant during this conversation. She asks... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
...set of gardening tools. Mama is deeply touched by the gift from Walter, Ruth, and Beneatha, which is the first gift that she has received in her life “without its being... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
The doorbell rings and Beneatha heads to her room to continue packing. Mama and Travis go to exit. Walter sings... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
...Walter falls to the floor and sobs, pounding the ground with his fists. Mama and Beneatha enter from the bedroom. Walter screams, “THAT MONEY IS MADE OUT OF MY FATHER’S FLESH.”... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
...Walter admits that he never went to the bank and never placed the money for Beneatha’s schooling into a savings account. Mama stands quietly in disbelief, looking at her son “without... (full context)
Act 3
Dreams Theme Icon
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
...fills the apartment with “a sullen light of gloom.” Asagai enters the apartment to visit Beneatha, who is deeply upset about the lost money. Beneatha explains the situation to Asagai and... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Asagai tries to convince Beneatha of the value of idealism, but she rejects his arguments. She mocks Asagai’s dream for... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
Beneatha laments that with the loss of the insurance money her dream for the future has... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
When Beneatha accuses Asagai of being unable to provide an argument in favor of idealism, Asagai shouts,... (full context)
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
“Rather quietly,” Asagai suggests that Beneatha “come home” with him. At first, Beneatha mistakenly believes that Asagai is merely asking her... (full context)
Money Theme Icon
...the bedroom and “feverishly” begins to look for something. Filled with disgust for her brother, Beneatha launches into a “monologue of insult,” mockingly calling Walter an entrepreneur. Walter ignores her comments... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
...table and returns it to its former spot by the window. She asks Ruth or Beneatha to call the moving company and cancel their move. Mama remembers how people “down home”... (full context)
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
Walter reenters and tells Mama, Ruth, and Beneatha that he made a phone call to “The Man.” Beneatha realizes that Walter is referring... (full context)
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
Beneatha sneers that Walter is “not a man . . . but a toothless rat.” Mama... (full context)
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
...we come from people who had a lot of pride.” He adds that his sister Beneatha plans to become a doctor. (full context)
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
...try to ignore “the nobility” of Walter’s decision, focusing instead on the task at hand. Beneatha excitedly tells Mama that Asagai proposed to her that afternoon, but in the busyness of... (full context)