A Raisin in the Sun

by: Lorraine Hansberry

Act I, scene i

Summary Act I, scene i

Walter and Ruth, who occupy the middle ground in terms of age between Mama and Beneatha, have also tempered their dreams more than Beneatha has. Though Walter and Ruth harbor materialistic dreams, they desire wealth not solely for self-serving purposes but rather as a means to provide for their family and escape the South Side ghetto in which they live. The tension evoked by issues of money and manhood comes sharply into focus when Travis asks for fifty cents. Ruth, the household manager, refuses to give her son the money; Walter, as a father trying to safeguard his son’s ability to be accepted, gives Travis twice as much as he asks for. Walter does so knowing that he faces the emasculating task of having to ask Ruth for money himself as a result. As the two talk about their entrapping situation, Ruth’s reply of “[e]at your eggs” answers every statement that Walter offers, reflecting the stereotypical perception that blacks have an inability to overcome problems.