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ACT II, SCENE 2: Friday night, a few weeks later
When this scene opens, there are packing crates all over the house. Beneatha and Murchison have just returned from a date. When she rebuffs his attempts to kiss her, he departs. Mama asks her daughter whether she had a nice time. Beneatha says that she thinks George is stupid. Mama tells her that she need not waste time with fools. Beneatha is glad that she is understanding.
Mrs. Johnson, a neighbor, enters. She has come over to warn the Youngers of the dangers involved in moving into a white neighborhood. Her concern for their welfare does not seem very genuine; instead, she comes across as an interfering busybody, who gets into a small argument with Mama. After Mrs. Johnson leaves, Walter's employer calls to ask why he has not come to work for three days. Mama quizzes Walter about where he has been. He tells her that he has been driving around in Willy's car most of the time. He looks incredibly sad and disillusioned with life.
Mama feels guilty about Walter's misery and decides to give him the remaining insurance money. She hands him sixty-five hundred dollars and asks him to put three thousand dollars of the money in a savings account for Beneatha's medical school. He can spend the rest of the money as he chooses, but she tells him to behave as if he were the head of the family. Walter is elated. When Travis enters, he tells his son all about his far-fetched dreams of making a lot of money from the liquor store. He obviously has not listened to Mama's warning about liquor being unchristian.
It is Friday night, and Beneatha and Murchison come in from a date. It is obvious that their relationship is strained, for he criticizes her for not acting like a normal girl and for talking too much. She then refuses his attempts to kiss her. When Murchison leaves, Beneatha tells her mother that she thinks he is stupid. Mama warns her not to waste any more time on him.
Mrs. Johnson, a neighbor, comes over to warn the Youngers about moving into an all-white neighborhood. It seems almost like she takes delight in trying to scare Mama. She shamelessly suggests that the Youngers' names will probably be in the newspaper when their new house is bombed. Instead of seeming like a caring friend, Mrs. Johnson comes across as a sarcastic, interfering busybody who gives some comic relief to the play. In spite of her rudeness, the kind Lena offers her something to eat and drink, which Mrs. Johnson readily accepts. In comparison to Mrs. Johnson, Mama is clearly kinder and more dignified. Although Mrs. Johnson is cruel in her intent, her words do highlight the fact that there is some danger associated with the move into a white neighborhood; and Mrs. Johnson is not the only black who feels that the Youngers' decision is foolish and dangerous. After Mrs. Johnson leaves, Beneatha wittily remarks that the family has two things to overcome: the Ku Klux Klan and Mrs. Johnson.
When Walter's employer calls, it is revealed that Walter has not been to work for three days. He tells the family that in his misery, he has been whiling away the time by riding around with Willy and by visiting a pub. Mama feels guilty about his sadness and holds herself responsible for his miserable, depressed state. She decides that there is nothing worth holding on to if it means destroying her boy. In her effort to please him, she gives him sixty-five hundred dollars, the remaining amount of the insurance money. She tells him to keep three thousand dollars for Beneatha's education; the rest he can have for himself. Walter is surprised and pleased that she trusts him with such a large amount of money.
When Mama leaves the room, Walter expresses his happiness. Travis enters the room just then and Walter shares his happiness with his son. He exaggerates his dreams and in his excitement he blurs the boundaries between what is possible what is impossible, sounding like a pitiful braggart.
This scene is important for two main reasons. Beneatha seems to have reached a decision about George. Additionally, Mama makes the decision to give Walter the balance of the insurance money, which will prove to be a costly error.