The first scene of the play is in a cramped apartment in South Chicago, where the Younger family lives. It is early morning, and the house is slowly waking up. The first family members to be seen are Walter Younger, and his wife, Ruth, who appears to be weary and unwell; as soon as they are up, they begin to argue about his preoccupation with plans for a new business venture. They are interrupted by their young son, Travis, who asks for some money to take to school. .
After Walter goes into the living room, Beneatha, his sister, enters. .
Walter argues with her about her ambition to become a doctor. .
Finally, as Walter is leaving for his work as a chauffeur, Mama .
enters the room. Ruth asks Mama how she wants to spend the .
life insurance money that she has received after the death of her .
husband; although Mama answers that she does not want to talk .
about money first thing in the morning, they do have a financial .
discussion. When Beneatha joins them, the talk turns to her love .
life, because she has two suitors. During the conversation, Mama slaps .
Beneatha for talking blasphemously about God, and Beneatha leaves the room. As Mama and Ruth talk about Walter and Beneatha, Ruth suddenly faints.
ACT I, Scene 2: The following morning .
This is the day when the insurance check is expected to arrive. Mama and Beneatha are busy doing spring cleaning. Travis wants to go down to play after finishing his chores. Joseph calls Beneatha, and she invites him over. Ruth comes in and sadly tells everyone that she is pregnant and is thinking about having an abortion, which upsets Mama; but since Ruth does not look like she feels well, Mama takes her to her room. .
When there is commotion on the street below, the women look out and see that the kids are chasing rats. Travis is called back upstairs. Mama again thinks how she wants to move from the neighborhood. Soon Joseph Asagai arrives, bringing Beneatha African records and robes.