Set at an apartment in Chicago’s south side we are introduced to the first Younger – Ruth. The mother of Travis, and wife to Walter. According to the stage direction Ruth was the type of woman one could tell was pretty back in the day, but it is clear that life’s struggles have taken a toll on her beauty. She rises early rushing Travis to school, and waking Walter up for work. The family’s money troubles are clear when Travis comes out asking his mother for 50 cents to pay his school, Ruth insists that she does not have it and that she does not care what the school says.
Although Walter, described as a lean, and intense young man in his mid thirties undermines his wife and gives a whole dollar to Travis anyway, creating a strife on the relationship between him and Ruth. They continue to argue until Beneatha, Walter’s sister, walks in. Walter picks on Beneatha for having such un-womanly ambitions in wanting to be a doctor especially because medical school would be such a financial strain on not only herself but on the whole family. Walter leaves for work as a chauffeur, and we are introduced to Mama, the mother of Beneatha and Walter.
She is described as being in her sixties, strong, and a women of certain grace and beauty. Mama who is soon to be $10,000 richer due to an insurance settlement, seems to question Ruth’s ability to raise Travis and states that she would like to use the money on a new house with a nice yard for the family. One common obsession this family holds true together would definitely be the idea of having money, they all seem to have aspirations that a suburban white family would have – Big house, new car, investments, higher education. As their conversation continues Ruth faints to the floor, and Mama rushes to her aid. (end of act I)