A Raisin in the Sun

Walter Lee Younger Character Analysis

Mama’s oldest child and Beneatha’s brother. Walter is married to Ruth and is Travis’ father. Walter is a “lean, intense young man” in his mid-thirties and “nervous movements and erratic speech habits” characterize his behavior. Walter hopes to use the insurance money as an investment in a liquor store, which would fulfill his dream of becoming a business owner who can support his family. Walter finds his dead-end job as a chauffeur to be emasculating. Walter struggles to define his position within the family and Mama’s eventual decision to make him head of the household refortifies his personal identity.

Walter Lee Younger Quotes in A Raisin in the Sun

The A Raisin in the Sun quotes below are all either spoken by Walter Lee Younger or refer to Walter Lee 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer 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:

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That is just what is wrong with the colored women in this world . . . Don’t understand about building their men up and making ‘em feel like they somebody. Like they can do something.

Related Characters: Walter Lee Younger (speaker)
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

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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, 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:

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Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

Mama: Oh – So now it’s life. Money is life. Once upon a time freedom used to be life – now it’s money. I guess the world really do change . . .
Walter: No – it was always money, Mama. We just didn’t know about it.
Mama: No . . . 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 . . .

Related Characters: Lena Younger (Mama) (speaker), Walter Lee Younger (speaker)
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

George: You’re all wacked up with bitterness, man.
Walter: And you – ain’t you bitter, man? Ain’t you just about had it yet? Don’t you see no stars gleaming that you can’t reach out and grab? You happy? – You contented son-of-a-bitch – you happy? You got it made? Bitter? Man, I’m a volcano. Bitter? Here I am a giant – surrounded by ants! Ants who can’t even understand what it is the giant is talking about.

Related Characters: Walter Lee Younger (speaker), George Murchison (speaker)
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:

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Son – you – you understand what I done, don’t you? I – I just seen my family falling apart today . . . just falling to pieces in front of my eyes . . . We couldn’t of gone on like we was today. We was going backwards ‘stead of forwards – talking ‘bout killing babies and wishing each other was dead . . . When it gets like that in life – you just got to do something different, push on out and do something bigger.

Related Characters: Lena Younger (Mama) (speaker), Walter Lee Younger
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes

I say I been wrong, son. That I been doing to you what the rest of the world been doing to you. Walter – what you ain’t never understood is that I ain’t got nothing, don’t own nothing, ain’t never really wanted nothing that wasn’t for you. . . . There ain’t nothing worth holding on to, money, dreams, nothing else – if it means – if it means it’s going to destroy my boy. . . . I’m telling you to be the head of this family from now on like you supposed to be.

Related Characters: Lena Younger (Mama) (speaker), Walter Lee Younger
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2, Scene 3 Quotes

Man, I trusted you . . . Man, I put my life in your hands . . . Man . . . THAT MONEY IS MADE OUT OF MY FATHER’S FLESH –

Related Characters: Walter Lee Younger (speaker), Walter Younger (Big Walter), Willy Harris
Related Symbols: The Insurance Payment
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3 Quotes

Talking ‘bout life, Mama. . . . Mama, you know it’s all divided up. Life is. Sure enough. Between the takers and the “tooken.” I’ve figured it out finally. Yeah. Some of us always getting “tooken.”

Related Characters: Walter Lee Younger (speaker), Lena Younger (Mama)
Related Symbols: The Insurance Payment
Page Number: 141
Explanation and Analysis:

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Son – I come from five generations of people who was slaves and sharecroppers – but ain’t nobody in my family never let nobody pay ‘em no money that was a way of telling us we wasn’t fit to walk the earth. We ain’t never been that poor. We ain’t never been that – dead inside.

Related Characters: Lena Younger (Mama) (speaker), Walter Lee Younger
Related Symbols: The Insurance Payment
Page Number: 143
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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And we have decided to move into our house because my father – my father – he earned it for us brick by brick. We don’t want to make no trouble for nobody or fight no causes, and we will try to be good neighbors. And that’s all we got to say about that. We don’t want your money.

Related Characters: Walter Lee Younger (speaker), Walter Younger (Big Walter)
Related Symbols: The Insurance Payment
Page Number: 148
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

He finally come into his manhood today, didn’t he? Kind of like a rainbow after the rain . . .

Related Characters: Lena Younger (Mama) (speaker), Walter Lee Younger
Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:

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Walter Lee Younger Character Timeline in A Raisin in the Sun

The timeline below shows where the character Walter Lee 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.... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
Mama critiques Walter’s overriding emphasis on the importance of money, to which he responds that money “is life.”... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Dreams Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
Suddenly, Mama enters the apartment and ends Ruth and Walter’s intimate moment. At first, Mama ignores Walter and speaks only to Ruth, asking her where... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
...pass the time of day with nobody ain’t been to college.” Mrs. Johnson then mentions Walter’s dissatisfaction with his work as a chauffeur, but states that he shouldn’t be ashamed because... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
The telephone rings and Ruth answers it. Mrs. Arnold, the wife of Walter’s employer, is on the line and tells Ruth that Walter hasn’t been to work in... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
Overcome with guilt, Mama realizes that she has unknowingly contributed to Walter’s descent into depression by refusing to support his dream for a liquor store. She admits... (full context)
Act 3
Dreams Theme Icon
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
An hour later, Walter’s loss of the insurance money fills the apartment with “a sullen light of gloom.” Asagai... (full context)
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Race, Discrimination, and Assimilation Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
Still in denial of Walter’s intentions in calling Lindner, Ruth again asks Walter about the phone call. Walter says that... (full context)
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
...for the family’s move to Clybourne Park. They “deliberately” try to ignore “the nobility” of Walter’s decision, focusing instead on the task at hand. Beneatha excitedly tells Mama that Asagai proposed... (full context)
Dreams Theme Icon
Dignity and Pride Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
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... (full context)