Act 1

Scene 1

In the Youngers’ apartment, the family discusses their plans for the life insurance check left behind after Beneatha and Walter’s father died. Beneatha wants to use the money to pay for medical school, but Walter wishes to invest in a liquor store, an idea that Mama does not agree with, as she wants to pursue the dream of owning a home. Ruth faints suddenly while talking with Mama about her husband Walter and Beneatha.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Act 1, Scene 1.

Scene 2

Walter receives a call from Willy Harris with whom he discusses his liquor store business venture. Meanwhile Beneatha invites Joseph Asagai to their apartment. Asagai flirts with Beneatha, telling her that she has to tap into her African identity, and meets Mama who tells him Beneatha’s view on African people. Ruth returns home from the doctor and reveals that she is pregnant, but she becomes upset when she tries to discuss her pregnancy with Walter, and Ruth confirms she wants an abortion.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Act 1, Scene 2.

Act 2

Scene 1

Walter comes home drunk and finds Beneatha wearing Nigerian clothing and performing a tribal dance, which he then mocks and performs his own. When George arrives to pick Beneatha up for a date, Beneatha unveils her new haircut to everyone’s surprise. George and Walter get into an argument, and later Walter argues with Ruth about his drinking and spending money. Walter is crushed after learning that Mama has placed a down payment on a home in a white neighborhood.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Act 2, Scene 1.

Scene 2

Weeks later, Beneatha kicks George out after he belittles her views on the plight of Black Americans. The Youngers are then visited by their neighbor Mrs. Johnson who tells them of a Black family that was bombed out of their home in a white neighborhood, a fate she says the Youngers will most likely face as well. Ruth confronts Walter about his absence from work, at which point he explains that he has felt hopeless due to his failure as the man of the house. Upon hearing his lament, Mama agrees to give Walter the remaining insurance money and tells him to invest it.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Act 2, Scene 2.

Scene 3

On moving day, the attitudes in the Younger household have changed for the better, but the mood changes when Karl Lindner arrives to dissuade the Youngers from moving to the all-white neighborhood, suggesting that the Youngers living there will ruin the dreams of the white people. Mama learns that the Youngers refused Lindner’s buyout. When Bobo, Walter’s friend, reveals that Willy ran off with Walter’s investment, an enraged Mama attacks Walter before being stopped by Beneatha.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Act 2, Scene 3.

Act 3

Joseph Asagai tries to cheer up a brooding Beneatha by proposing she come home with him to Africa. At first, Walter is inclined to accept Lindner’s buyout offer, but when he arrives at the Younger apartment with papers, Walter refuses to accept the money. The family finishes packing up, and Mama comments that Walter has become a man.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Act 3.