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Mama (Lena Younger)
Mama, the proud mother of Beneatha and Walter, is the sensitive, but strong, matriarch of the Younger family. Although she has always been poor, she exudes dignity and pride. Even though the small apartment that she shares with her entire extended family is small, cramped, and worn, it has been carefully decorated and perfectly cleaned. She has even gone to the trouble to hide the worn spots on the upholstery with doilies and coverlets.
Mama's strongest trait is the love that she shows for her family and her God. She constantly fusses over her children and grandchild, telling Beneatha to wear warm clothes and warning Walter that he needs to eat better. When Ruth, her daughter-in-law is feeling sick and weary, Mama is the only one to notice. She is also willing to always help Travis, sometimes covering up for his errors. She also proves that she is a very caring mother who usually gives good advice and makes wise decisions. She shows concern for Walter's behavior when she learns he has not gone to work for three days. She advises him against investing in a liquor store, saying that it would be an un-christian venture. When Walter is upset that she has spent some of the insurance money for a down payment on a new house, she decides to give him some of it. When she learns that he has lost all the money she has given him, she is at first furious and hits him. She then forgives her son, saying that family relations are more important than money. After fighting with he son, she prays to God for forgiveness and wisdom.
Mama is equally concerned about Beneatha and Ruth. She intends for Beneatha to have three thousand dollars of the insurance money for her education. She also cares about her daughter making a wise choice for a husband. She listens to Beneatha talk about her two boyfriends and tells her that she should not waste any more time on Murchison, who is vain and self-centered. She also tells her that she will not allow the Lord's name to be used in vain in her home and makes Beneatha confess that in her house there is a God. When Ruth tells her that she is pregnant and contemplating an abortion, Mama is horrified, for she values human life. She advises Ruth against the decision and tries to convince Walter to try and change Ruth's mind.
Mama is also a very brave woman. On her own she makes the decision to buy a nice house in an all white neighborhood, for she wants her family to have a nice, comfortable place to live where there are no rats. Even when Mrs. Johnson, her neighbor, tries to scare her out of the decision, she will not be swayed. In a similar manner, she is not afraid of the threats of Mr. Lindner, the representative from the all-white neighborhood association. She knows that her family is strong enough to withstand the discrimination that they will receive. In a similar manner, when she learns that the insurance money has been stolen by Willy, she bravely states that the wisest thing to do is give up on the plans to move from the dingy apartment, for she sees no way to pay for the new house, even though she wants it badly.
Mama is so accustomed to enduring hardships and suffering that she has become as strong as a stone pillar. The Lindners of the world certainly cannot destroy her strength or her peace. She has already endured a life of poverty and discrimination, the loss of a baby, and the death of a beloved husband. Because of her deep religious convictions, she has the psychological make-up to bravely face and overcome life's challenges. Like the potted plant that she nourishes, she survives in spite of hardships and trauma.