Beneatha Younger is a character from the play, A Rising in the Sun. The play is a story of a lower-class family of black people that is working hard to gain recognition in the middle –class. In that case, the play revolves around this struggle. The play primarily focuses on how $10,000 insurance money should be spent after the check is received. The money is supposed to compensate the death of sixty year’s old husband who was the father of the family. The son, Walter Lee Younger Feels that he has the responsibility to take care of the family. For that matter, he is willing to invest all the money in a liquor assisted by two of his friends. However, ethical reasons lead to her mother objections to the idea. This causes some minor conflicts amongst the family. In the drama, Mama decides to pay for a house in the white neighborhood using some of the money. some of the money as a down payment on a house which is located in a white neighborhood. This increases their conflict which makes Mama suffer (Wilkerson, pg. 65). Determined to make things right between them, he entrusts the rest of the money to him but Walter decides to invest it in his liquor store secretly. Doing this, he hopes to quadruple his initial investment. One of Walter’s prospective partners in the business decides to run off with the money causing a huge loss to the family. It was a great way to test their spiritual and psychological adherence. They undergo a lot of problems but still decides to move to the white neighborhood regardless of the warning that they are not welcome. Beneatha Younger plays a critical role in this play especially by displaying her smart character to the family. The paper focuses primarily on her role, her relationship with other characters and the themes she displays.
Beneatha Younger, popularly known as “Bennie” is the sister to Walter Lee Younger and Mama’s daughter. She is twenty years old and very smart at the same time. Beneatha is an intellect who attends college and happens to be educated than the rest of her younger siblings. She has personal beliefs that have distanced her from Mama considering the fact that, Mama is very conservative. Bennie is a dreamer and hopes to become a doctor someday so that she can determine her identity as a black woman in the society. Due to the fact that they are a poor working class family, Beneatha has to share her room with her mother in their small apartment (Wilkerson, pg. 36). Appearing for the first time in the play, Beneatha is described as a slim, wild girl with thick hair and beautiful face. Again, she uses different English which is different from the rest of the family. All this is connected to her education.
Beneatha Role in the Play
Beneatha’s family wants her to marry a financially stable man but her plans dictate otherwise. She wants to study in a medical school after she finishes college. Her biggest dream is to become a doctor and help other people. It is, however, one of her biggest ideals and aims. Looking keenly her ambitions are echoed by her name which sounds like ‘beneath he’. In this case, this may mean that her high ideals may cause discomfort of the people who surround her. Alternatively, it may mean that her ideal may leave a lot of people thinking about her. For that matter, Beneatha does not seem to fulfill the conservative expectations of the society (Adams, pg. 50). She is ultimately not satisfied with what she gets but rather struggles to have everything she desires in life. On her quest to become the lady she desires in the society, Beneatha finds herself in a lot of conflicts. She not only fights against what is expected of her womanhood but also struggles so as to cope with racism and generation caused conflicts between her and Mama. For instance, this is seen in her discussion with her brother Walter about George as her suitor as well as discussion with her mother about their different perception about religion. There is also an aspect of the inner conflict that is brought about by her position between her assimilation of the White society and her African heritage.
Considering the fact that Beneatha is more educated than her younger family, she most of the times seems to be self-centered and obnoxious. It is most evident in the early scenes. In the current situation, her family is facing a lot of problems. However, she openly and freely talks about how she views things to a household that has a lot of difficulties understanding her. To the puzzlement of the family, Beneatha favors her African suitor rather than her rich boyfriend. This is the time family expects her to take advantage that will help them out of their financial problems. Even though it’s clear that her family is poor, it does not prevent her from feeding her ego. In the play, we see that she does not hesitate from flitting from one expensive hobby to another in accordance to what her mood dictates. This is regardless of the fact that, the family could have resourcefully used the money spent on her horseback riding, acting lessons, buying camera equipment among other chubby things. It clear that there is more pressing financial obligation that the family needs to take care of.
It is clear that Beneatha is advantaged than most her siblings. Clearly, Walter lacked the privilege of schooling like she did. However, she believes and insists that she has a right to higher education. Now, everyone in the family seems to be making a sacrifice so that Beneatha can attain her dreams of becoming a doctor. This fact is clearly pointed out by Walter as the play begins (Adams, pg. 76). It seems to be an act of selfishness that, Beneatha strength comes from her quest to become an independent woman. This appears from the fact that, she is a new woman who clearly rejects the traditional role of a woman. The fact that she knows too much about Africa, and how women are treated raises her esteem to a great extent. Throughout the play, Beneatha tries to search for an identity as an African woman in the white society. However, the more she interacts with Joseph Asagai in their relationship, the more her ego drops and becomes a likable pleasant person.
Beneatha Younger relationship with her mother is to a great extent a conflict considering the many differences between them. However, the relationship is not strained. Even after she is slapped by her mother for what is termed as blasphemous talk, she later hugs her Mama for understanding why she dismissed George. Even if they don’t always agree, there is a clear understanding and love between them. In her dealings, especially with her brother, she is opinionated and clearly lives to what she believes especially during the beginning of the floor.
Relationship Between Beneatha Younger and other characters in the play.
One of the closest relationships seen in the novel is between Beneatha and her mother Lena. Lena in a special way understand her daughter and make a lot of sacrifices to make sure that she is successful. However, they seem to have a lot of differences which leads to many conflicts. For instance, Lena does not approve of the fact that Beneatha does not believe in God (Adams, pg. 80). This even leads to her slapping her for what is termed as a blasphemous comment. On another instance, she wants Beneatha to be married to a financially well-suited man with an aim that, she will help her family and help herself. But Beneatha has a different goal in life, she wants to go to a medical school, learn and become a doctor so as she can help other people. Regardless of all this, Beneatha and her mother Lena loves one another. At one instance, they are seen to hug one another when Lena understand the dismissal of George as a suitor.
Another important relationship in the play is between Beneatha and Walter. They happen to be brother and sister but do not get along because of several reasons. First, Beneatha and her brother Walter disagree on how their mother Lena should use the money she is about to receive (Wilkerson, pg. 112). At some point, Beneatha tells Walter, “That money belongs to mama, Walter, and it’s for her to decide how she wants to use it” (pg. 36). Walter believes that Beneatha wants to manipulate her mother so that she can use the money in the medical school. Walter wants the money so that he can invest it in a liquor store. He does not like the fact that, he will work while Beneatha is in school. Again, their values and goals differ to a great extent, while Beneatha wants to study and become a doctor, Walter believes that she should stick to her traditional roles as a woman. He says that “Who the hell told you-you had to be a doctor? If you so crazy about messing around with sick people, then go be a nurse like other women or just get married and be quiet…” (pg. 38). Beneatha thinks that Walter is selling them out to the white people when he refuses to move to the white neighborhood in the exchange of money. To him, money is the only important thing that should bother him. Beneatha hates this. At the end, he refuses to accept the money and decides to cooperate with Beneatha so that the can pursue African-American rights.
The relationship between Beneatha and Gorge as well as Joseph is very important in the play. George is interested in marrying Beneatha but she notes his disappointment in African heritage especially when he mocks her natural hair. As all this continues in the play, the character of Beneatha is greatly influenced by these two different men. George Murchison is educated and wealthy while Josephs is just but a common African from Nigeria. However, neither of them is involved in Youngers’ financial difficulties in an active manner (Wilkerson, pg. 150). In their relationship with Beneatha, George represents a completely assimilated African American who cites his education and therefore denies African Heritage. He even mocks Walter for lack of education and money. This greatly way disgusts Beneatha. On the other hand, Joseph teaches Beneatha about her African heritage and encourages her to adopt it. Dismisses George as a suitor and with time, her relationship with Joseph makes a likable nice person whose ego has dropped significantly.
Beneatha Relationship with Various Themes in the Play.
Beneatha plays a great role in the reflection of various themes in the play especially when it comes to, Dreams, Racism, and Gender. There are even symbols connected with her that try to explain these themes. Essentially, the play is all about dreams considering the fact that main characters struggle to change situations that oppress them in life (Adams, pg. 128). Beneatha, in particular, is so determined to realize her dreams in life as she tries to figure out her position in life. She is willing to do as much as she can to go to the medical school regardless of the fact that her family is struggling financially. Beneatha, with her intelligence, tries to figure out her identity and that of her race. George Murchison in the context of Beneatha shows racial discrimination which is very persistent when their efforts are directed to assimilation. In this case, someone is integrated into the social mainstream. Beneatha condemns George claiming that he is ashamed of his heritage. He says that “I hate assimilationist Negros”. Natural hair that Beneatha keeps happens to symbolize her pride in her culture of African heritage, together with the desire to explore her roots. When Joseph comments on how her hair is straightened “mutilated” she decided to cut it and keep it natural (Wilkerson, pg. 160). There are some people who are surprised by that decision including George but in her case, she views that as an opportunity to distance herself from the oppressive nature of western culture. In this case, she is able to clearly express her racial identity. In the end, they fight for their right of living in their new house in the white neighborhood. Finally, she is so connected to the theme of Gender as well. In a society where woman roles are already pre-determined by the traditions, Beneatha decides to become a doctor regardless of criticism from his brother.
In conclusion, it is clear that Beneatha is very crucial in the play. As a character trying to figure out her position in a compromised society, she helps the author put together a play that addressed issues that less privileged families go through when trying to make ends meet. Regardless of many obstacles in her way, Beneatha is determined to realize her dream of becoming a doctor. Considering that she is not perfect, regardless of her intellectual capability, she learns through characters like Joseph Asagai and becomes a much better person who is more likable and easy to interact and reason with. He no longer ridicules her brother for his big dreams, neither does he blame him for the family downfall. Instead, she is ready to work together with him to protect the interest of the family and defend their rights as black people.