Karl Lindner

The Lindner character, although basically a “flat character,” is still developed by Hansberry as a human being and not simply a stereotype of a bigot. For example, when Mr. Lindner arrives at the Younger household, he is extremely shy and timid, not threatening or abrasive or loud. He is polite and mannerly even though everything he says is insulting to the Youngers.

It is immediately apparent to us that Mr. Lindner is not even aware of his insults to them. He is simply a courier from the Clybourne Park neighborhood, bringing a message to the Youngers that he, himself, had no part in originating. He has been sent by the organization which he represents, and he naively believes in the correctness of this organization. But never do we get the impression that Lindner is filled with hatred that would make him knowingly insult the Youngers or hurt them physically in any way. Lindner does not realize the scope of his mission. When he says that “people want to live among their own kind,” he firmly believes that he is doing the Youngers a favor by offering to pay them not to move into Clybourne Park.

The Youngers are kind to Lindner when he first enters their apartment, and Lindner’s amazement turns into discomfort. When they offer Lindner refreshments, he declines because he realizes at this point that the Youngers are decent people, which makes his mission uncomfortable for him. Lindner appears almost pathetic as he tries to explain his point of view to a fiery Beneatha, an angry Walter, and a surprised Ruth.

Mrs. Johnson (Mrs. Wilhelmina Othella Johnson)

The character of Mrs. Johnson appears mostly for comic relief. She is a flat caricature of the nosy, jealous neighbor. However, Hansberry employs the Mrs. Johnson character in order to point out the explosive realities that await the Youngers for being the first blacks to move into Clybourne Park. Mrs. Johnson is insensitive and unkind, asking indelicate, overly nosy questions. At one point, she practically says outright that she is hoping that the Youngers’ new house will be bombed. Although her warnings are about a very real danger to the Youngers, Mrs. Johnson’s manner is so offensive that she appears almost ludicrous.


Bobo is, as his name suggests, somewhat dimwitted, but he is basically honest and appears to be a loyal friend. When he comes to Walter’s apartment to deliver the bad news about the insurance money, he is so mannerly and polite to the women in the Younger household that he appears almost ridiculous. As soon as we meet Bobo, we know instantly why Walter’s business idea did not work out as he hoped it would.

Bobo looks to Walter for direction, for even as unschooled as Walter might have appeared to us initially, we see that Walter is far brighter than Bobo. Bobo’s thought processes are sluggish; we see that he hardly knows the right words to use as he tries to explain to Walter what happened to their money. We know that Bobo is not bright when he says, “Me and Willy was going to go down to Springfield and spread some money ’round so’s we wouldn’t have to wait so long for the liquor license . . . everybody said that was the way you had to do.” We pity Bobo because of his shabby appearance, his limited intelligence, and his inability to ever escape his environment. We, the audience, are more aware of his suffering than Bobo, who is, throughout, a pathetic intellectual dwarf.


Although we never meet Willy, we know a lot about him based upon things that are said about him by the other characters. Willy has no loyalty toward Walter or Bobo: He absconded with their money. Although he knows that he is robbing two people who have as little as he has, this does not stop him; he takes their money and runs off anyway. Willy is the smartest of the three because he has no illusions about getting rich through Walter’s liquor store idea. Willy feels that the most realistic method of his ever escaping poverty is to take the money that Walter and Bobo are foolish enough to entrust to him. Willy would never have entrusted his life savings with either of them. Willy has learned, as Walter says in his speech about the “takers” and the “tooken,” how to survive on the streets. He is not bound by moral codes or religious convictions and, therefore, feels no compunction about taking advantage of anyone — not even his close friends.

Big Walter

Big Walter is another character whom we never meet and only learn about through the dialogue of others. When Mama reminisces about her life with Big Walter, she speaks of him with admiration, although the audience might question Mama’s tolerance of some of his past behavior. Mama says, with a little laugh, that Big Walter was a womanizer, implying that, perhaps, at some point as a young wife, she might have been deeply hurt over Big Walter’s antics. We get the impression that he was a very old-fashioned man who dominated his household by his imposing presence. We do learn that Big Walter valued his family over all other priorities. Thus, even if Big Walter did “run around,” as Mama laughingly puts it, the implication is that Big Walter would never have left his family — not for any woman.

The Two Moving Men

Although the moving men have no speaking parts, their few moments on stage are memorable. They are admonished by Mama for not handling her furniture with the care she feels her furniture deserves. The moving men remind us of Walter; maybe their dreams are as intense as Walter’s. As they look around the apartment, it appears that they are impressed by the Youngers’ dramatic move out of the Southside neighborhood.


Regents English Prep Online


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