A Raisin in the Sun
by Lorraine Hansberry
Ruth is in some ways like a typical housewife of the 1950s. She makes breakfast, cleans the house, supports her husband, and keeps her own desires to herself. Unlike the stereotypical 1950s housewives, though, she also goes out into the world and works her butt off. Not only does she struggle to maintain her own household, but she goes out to work in the households of rich white people as well. The Youngers' financial difficulties make it impossible for Ruth to just work in her own home. As a character, then, Ruth exposes the difficulties of being a working-class mother.
All this financial stress is proving to be big trouble for Ruth's marriage. Her husband Walter is incredibly dissatisfied with his life, and he constantly takes it out on her. Ruth is far from a doormat and tells her husband off when he starts acting like a jerk. However, it is clear in the play that the turmoil in her marriage is taking a real toll on Ruth. She often seems irritable, depressed, and at times sinks into despair.
This all comes to a head for Ruth, when she finds out she is pregnant and considers an abortion. In the '50s, an abortion would have been a) illegal and b) dangerous. But according to Mama: "When the world gets ugly enough – a woman will do anything for her family. The part that's already living" (1.2.235). Though Ruth hates the idea of aborting her child, she feels it's the best decision for her financially-strapped family.
In the end, though, Ruth chooses to keep her child. She finds hope in the fact that the Younger family will soon be moving out of their cramped, roach-infested apartment and into a new house. She'll still have to work to help pay the mortgage, and they'll all have to deal with the racist backlash of living in a white neighborhood. Yes, times will still be tough for Ruth, but with her family around her she feels ready for to face the struggle.Timeline