Walter Lee Younger – The protagonist of the play. Walter is a dreamer. He wants to be rich and devises plans to acquire wealth with his friends, particularly Willy Harris. When the play opens, he wants to invest his father’s insurance money in a new liquor store venture. He spends the rest of the play endlessly preoccupied with discovering a quick solution to his family’s various problems.
Beneatha Younger (“Bennie”) – Mama’s daughter and Walter’s sister. Beneatha is an intellectual. Twenty years old, she attends college and is better educated than the rest of the Younger family. Some of her personal beliefs and views have distanced her from conservative Mama. She dreams of being a doctor and struggles to determine her identity as a well-educated black woman.
Lena Younger (“Mama”) – Walter and Beneatha’s mother. The matriarch of the family, Mama is religious, moral, and maternal. She wants to use her husband’s insurance money as a down payment on a house with a backyard to fulfill her dream for her family to move up in the world.
Ruth Younger – Walter’s wife and Travis’s mother. Ruth takes care of the Youngers’ small apartment. Her marriage to Walter has problems, but she hopes to rekindle their love. She is about thirty, but her weariness makes her seem older. Constantly fighting poverty and domestic troubles, she continues to be an emotionally strong woman. Her almost pessimistic pragmatism helps her to survive.
Travis Younger – Walter and Ruth’s sheltered young son. Travis earns some money by carrying grocery bags and likes to play outside with other neighborhood children, but he has no bedroom and sleeps on the living-room sofa.
Joseph Asagai – A Nigerian student in love with Beneatha. Asagai, as he is often called, is very proud of his African heritage, and Beneatha hopes to learn about her African heritage from him. He eventually proposes marriage to Beneatha and hopes she will return to Nigeria with him.
George Murchison – A wealthy, African-American man who courts Beneatha. The Youngers approve of George, but Beneatha dislikes his willingness to submit to white culture and forget his African heritage. He challenges the thoughts and feelings of other black people through his arrogance and flair for intellectual competition.
Mr. Karl Lindner – The only white character in the play. Mr. Lindner arrives at the Youngers’ apartment from the Clybourne Park Improvement Association. He offers the Youngers a deal to reconsider moving into his (all-white) neighborhood.
Bobo – One of Walter’s partners in the liquor store plan. Bobo appears to be as mentally slow as his name indicates.
Willy Harris – A friend of Walter and coordinator of the liquor store plan. Willy never appears onstage, which helps keep the focus of the story on the dynamics of the Younger family.
Mrs. Johnson – The Youngers’ neighbor. Mrs. Johnson takes advantage of the Youngers’ hospitality and warns them about moving into a predominately white neighborhood.
Ruth Younger The thirtyish wife of Walter Lee Younger and the mother of Travis, their ten-year-old son. Ruth acts as peacemaker in most of the explosive family situations. Very low-key, Ruth reveals her strongest emotions only when she learns of the possibility of their moving to a better neighborhood.
Travis Younger The ten-year-old son of Walter and Ruth Younger. Living in a household with three generations in conflict, Travis skillfully plays each adult against the other and is, as a result, somewhat “spoiled.” In spite of this, he is a likeable child.
Walter Lee Younger In his middle thirties, he is the husband of Ruth, father of Travis, brother of Beneatha, and son of Lena (Mama) Younger. Walter works as a chauffeur and drinks a bit too much at times. When he discovers that his mother will receive a $10,000 check from his father’s insurance, he becomes obsessed with his dreams of a business venture which will give him financial independence and, in his mind, will make him a more valuable human being.
Beneatha Younger The twentyish sister of Walter Lee and the daughter of Lena Younger. She is a college student planning to go to medical school. The only family member privileged to have the opportunity for a higher education, she is sometimes a little overbearing in the pride she takes in being an “intellectual.”
Lena Younger (Mama) The mother of Walter Lee and Beneatha, mother-in-law of Ruth, and grandmother of Travis. Lena’s (Mama’s) every action is borne out of her abiding love for her family, her deep religious convictions, and her strong will that is surpassed only by her compassion. Mama’s selfless spirit is shown in her plans to use her $10,000 insurance check for the good of her family, part of which includes plans to purchase a house in a middle-class white neighborhood.
Joseph Asagai An African college student from Nigeria, Asagai is one of Beneatha’s suitors. Mannerly, good looking, and personable, he is well liked by all members of the Younger household.
George Murchison Beneatha’s other boyfriend, he too is a college student. His wealthy background alienates him from the poverty of the Youngers. Easily impressed, Ruth is the only member of the Younger household who naively overlooks George’s offensive snobbishness.
Mrs. Johnson Brash and abrasive neighbor of the Youngers, she insensitively points out to the Youngers all the negative repercussions that await them should they decide to move into the white neighborhood.
Karl Lindner A weak and ineffectual middle-aged white man, Lindner is the spokesman for the white community into which the Youngers plan to move. He has been sent to persuade the Youngers not to move into the white neighborhood. In fact, he has been authorized by the white community to offer the Youngers a monetary incentive not to move in.
Bobo The somewhat dimwitted friend of Walter Lee who, along with another friend, Willy, plans to invest in Walter Lee’s business scheme.
Two Moving Men Having no speaking parts, they enter at the end of the play to help the Youngers move to their new neighborhood.
Walter Younger The husband of Lena Younger, father of Walter Lee and Beneatha, and grandfather of Travis. His death before the action of Act I provides the insurance money that will change the lives of the Younger family.
Willy The unscrupulous “friend” of Walter Lee and Bobo who absconds with all the money for the prospective business venture. Although the audience never meets him, Willy’s character is assessed through the dialogue of others.
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