BENEATHA: I mean it! I’m just tired of hearing about God all the time. What has He got to do with anything? Does he pay tuition? (Act I, scene i)
Beneatha comments on her mother’s reliance on divine providence. Beneatha has just announced to Ruth and Mama she will be a doctor, putting marriage second. Mama responds to her announcement with “god willing,” which irritates Beneatha, who is tired of hearing about a god who doesn’t seem to help their situation much. Beneatha’s pragmatism and progressive politics position her as a representation of a modern female in the 1950s.
BENEATHA: [Assimilationist] means someone who is willing to give up his own culture and submerge himself completely in the dominant, and in this case oppressive culture! (Act II, scene i)
After Beneatha insults Walter by calling him an assimilationist, Ruth asks her what the term means. Beneatha provides the definition, making it clear that an assimilationist is not a person she could respect. Beneatha’s progressive social views are at odds with her brother’s desire to give in to Lindner and accommodate white culture.
BENEATHA: That was what one person could do for another, fix him up – sew up the problem, make him all right again. That was the most marvelous thing in the world…I wanted to do that. I always thought it was the one concrete thing in the world that a human being could do. Fix up the sick, you know – and make them whole again. This was truly being God…I wanted to cure. It used to be so important to me. I wanted to cure. It used to matter. I used to care. I mean about people and how their bodies hurt… (Act III, scene i)
Beneatha grieves for her dying dream of becoming a doctor. She no longer believes she can attain her goal because the source for tuition money has dried up. She explains that, in her view, curing people is a real way of providing miracles for others. For Beneatha, a politically progressive and pragmatic thinker, helping people is the most important thing a person can do in the world.
BENEATHA: Asagai, while I was sleeping in that bed in there, people went out and took the future right out of my hands! And nobody asked me, nobody consulted me – they just went out and changed my life! (Act III, scene i)
Beneatha is complaining to Asagai that her dreams have been taken from her by her brother, her family, and the world. Her comment that nobody consulted her suggests that her being a woman makes it even more impossible for her to have a future. In this moment of weakness and despair, Beneatha believes her future lies in others’ hands.
BENEATHA: Bad? Say anything bad to him? No – I told him he was a sweet boy and full of dreams and everything is strictly peachy keen, as the ofay kids say!” (Act III, scene i)
Beneatha wants the family to stop catering to Walter, who she believes has just failed the family by saying he’ll take Lindner’s money. Ruth had anxiously asked if Beneatha had said anything “bad” to him, worrying Beneatha would make Walter feel worse than he already does. Beneatha’s sarcastic response reveals her lack of concern for Walter’s feelings and anger with his decisions.
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