Walter: You wouldn’t understand yet, son, but your daddy’s gonna make a transaction . . . a business transaction that’s going to change our lives. . . . That’s how come one day when you ‘bout seventeen years old I’ll come home . . . I’ll pull the car up on the driveway . . . just a plain black Chrysler, I think, with white walls—no—black tires . . . the gardener will be clipping away at the hedges and he’ll say, “Good evening, Mr. Younger.” And I’ll say, “Hello, Jefferson, how are you this evening?” And I’ll go inside and Ruth will come downstairs and meet me at the door and we’ll kiss each other and she’ll take my arm and we’ll go up to your room to see you sitting on the floor with the catalogues of all the great schools in America around you. . . . All the great schools in the world! And—and I’ll say, all right son—it’s your seventeenth birthday, what is it you’ve decided? . . . Just tell me, what it is you want to be—and you’ll be it. . . . Whatever you want to be—Yessir! You just name it, son . . . and I hand you the world!
This speech from Act II, scene ii, which Walter delivers to Travis as he tucks him in bed, closes an important scene and foreshadows the climax of the play. Walter explains to Travis, and to the audience, that he will move quickly to invest the money that Mama has just given him (part of it meant for Beneatha’s future schooling costs).
Walter seems to be rehashing conversations he might have heard while he was working as a chauffer to rich people. That he envisions having a gardener makes it seem that Walter wants to live a life that he has seen others enjoy and be like the people he has serviced. He explains his dream of the future in detail, as if it were being presented before his eyes. He paints the future vividly, even describing what sort of tires his cars will have and how busy his day will be with important matters. He never speaks in the conditional mood, which entails words such as “if” and “would” and suggests uncertainty, but in the future tense, using the word “will” throughout. This use of the future tense makes his dream appear to be something that will inevitably come true.
Yet Walter’s dream is not entirely materialistic. He envisions a better relationship with his wife, Ruth, in which they kiss and hold hands—a far cry from the relationship they have now. He also explains to Travis that he will have his choice among all the best colleges and that they will have enough money to send him to whichever one he chooses. At heart, Walter wants to provide for his family and reduce their cares.