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Beneatha in A Raisin in the Sun: Character, Quotes & Monologue

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  • 0:02 Who Is Beneatha Younger?
  • 2:05 Important Quotes
  • 4:04 Beneatha's Monologue
  • 4:52 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Washington

Danielle is a certified English Language Arts educator with 8 years of classroom experience, and has an education specialist degree in curriculum and instruction.

Beneatha Younger is a brilliant, yet complicated, character from Lorraine Hansberry's famous play 'A Raisin in the Sun.' In this lesson, you'll learn details about Beneatha's character as well as some important quotes and monologues in the play.

Who Is Beneatha Younger?

Have you ever observed a family where one member was so different than the all others that they seemed to stick out like a sore thumb? This is definitely the case for Beneatha Younger, one of the main characters of A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. Beneatha is a twenty year-old college student with dreams of going to medical school and becoming a doctor. This seems like a pretty ordinary dream, right? Well, as a Black woman from a poor neighborhood on the Southside of Chicago in the 1950s, this dream is anything but normal. And in a family comprised of a mother, brother, and sister-in-law whose main focus is daily survival, Beneatha's dream seems all but impossible.

Nevertheless, the family makes many financial sacrifices to make sure that Beneatha is able to get an education, even though there isn't much money to go around. She's even able to participate in expensive hobbies such as acting lessons, guitar lessons, and horseback riding, despite the fact that her family could use the money for more important things, such as getting a bigger place. Instead of being grateful for her family's sacrifices, Beneatha often comes off as being selfish, and at times, downright obnoxious. This is obvious in the way that she seems to sometimes look down on her family for not being as educated as she is. You might even describe her as being a bit of a snob when it comes to her family.

Aside from being an occasional snob, Beneatha has really strong opinions about being an independent woman. She cares a lot about politics and issues of civil rights, and is determined to get more in touch with her African culture through her relationship with Joseph Asagai, an African schoolmate. Beneatha's ideas about women and Africa are another thing that make her very different from the rest of her family. Her opinions often lead to conflicts, especially with her mother and her brother, Walter Lee.

Underneath her tough shell, Beneatha really does care about helping people, which is why she ultimately wants to become a doctor. At the end of the play, she even considers marrying Asagai and going to Africa with him to practice medicine.

Important Quotes

Let's look at some key quotes said by Beneatha in the play. Our first couple of quotes come from Act I, Scene i of the show:

'And forgive me for ever wanting to be anything at all! (Pursuing him on her knees across the floor) FORGIVE ME, FORGIVE ME, FORGIVE ME!'

In this scene, Beneatha is being sarcastic by apologizing to her brother for having dreams of becoming a doctor because Walter Lee doesn't realistically think it can happen. When he tries to make her feel bad about the sacrifices everyone is making for her to go to school, she stands up to him and defends her plans anyway.

'I mean it! I'm just tired of hearing about God all the time. What has He got to do with anything? Does He pay tuition?'

In this scene, Beneatha is arguing with Mama about her belief in God. Shortly after, Mama slaps Beneatha and makes her declare that in her house, God still exists. This scene shows the conflict between Beneatha's liberal opinions and Mama's traditional, more conservative views. It also shows how the family's financial struggles have caused Beneatha to doubt her religious beliefs.

Another key quote can be found in Act I, Scene ii:

'My hair - what's wrong with my hair?'

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