One of Beneatha’s fellow students and one of her suitors, Asagai is from Nigeria, and throughout the play he provides an international perspective. Proud of his African heritage, he hopes to return to Nigeria to help bring about positive change and modern advancements. He tries to teach Beneatha about her heritage as well. He stands in obvious contrast to Beneatha’s other suitor, George Murchison, who has succeeded in life by assimilating to the white world.
Though Asagai criticizes Beneatha a few times in the play, he seems to do so out of a desire to help her. He criticizes her straightened hair, which resembles Caucasian hair, and persuades her to cut it and keep a more natural, more African look. He criticizes her independent views, but seemingly only to give her new energy and strength. His final criticism of Beneatha—that she is not as independent as she believes herself to be because her dream of attending medical school is bound up in the insurance money from her father’s death and her reliance on Walter’s investing schemes—further helps to open Beneatha’s eyes to the necessity of probing her own existence and identity. The text’s implication that Beneatha intends to accept Asagai’s proposal of marriage and move to Nigeria with him suggests that he is, in a way, a savior for her.