Walter Lee Younger
protagonist of the play. Walter is a dreamer.
He wants to be rich and devises plans to acquire wealth with his
friends, particularly Willy Harris. When the play opens, he wants
to invest his father’s insurance money in a new liquor store venture. He
spends the rest of the play endlessly preoccupied with discovering
a quick solution to his family’s various problems.
Beneatha Younger (“Bennie”)
daughter and Walter’s sister. Beneatha is
an intellectual. Twenty years old, she attends college and is better
educated than the rest of the Younger family. Some of her personal
beliefs and views have distanced her from conservative Mama. She dreams
of being a doctor and struggles to determine her identity as a well-educated
Lena Younger (“Mama”)
Walter and Beneatha’s mother. The matriarch of the
family, Mama is religious, moral, and maternal. She wants to use
her husband’s insurance money as a down payment on a house with
a backyard to fulfill her dream for her family to move up in the world.
wife and Travis’s mother. Ruth takes care of the Youngers’ small
apartment. Her marriage to Walter has problems, but she hopes to
rekindle their love. She is about thirty, but her weariness makes
her seem older. Constantly fighting poverty and domestic troubles,
she continues to be an emotionally strong woman. Her almost pessimistic
pragmatism helps her to survive.
and Ruth’s sheltered young son. Travis earns some money by carrying
grocery bags and likes to play outside with other neighborhood children,
but he has no bedroom and sleeps on the living-room sofa.
Nigerian student in love with Beneatha. Asagai, as he is often called,
is very proud of his African heritage, and Beneatha hopes to learn
about her African heritage from him. He eventually proposes marriage
to Beneatha and hopes she will return to Nigeria with him.
A wealthy, African-American man who courts Beneatha.
The Youngers approve of George, but Beneatha dislikes his willingness
to submit to white culture and forget his African heritage. He challenges the
thoughts and feelings of other black people through his arrogance
and flair for intellectual competition.
Mr. Karl Lindner
The only white character in the play. Mr. Lindner arrives
at the Youngers’ apartment from the Clybourne Park Improvement Association.
He offers the Youngers a deal to reconsider moving into his
of Walter’s partners in the liquor store plan. Bobo appears to be
as mentally slow as his name indicates.
friend of Walter and coordinator of the liquor store plan. Willy
never appears onstage, which helps keep the focus of the story on
the dynamics of the Younger family.
Youngers’ neighbor. Mrs. Johnson takes advantage of the Youngers’
hospitality and warns them about moving into a predominately white neighborhood.