Because Beneatha is the most educated of the Youngers, she sometimes seems to be obnoxious and self-centered; especially in the early scenes, she freely verbalizes her views in a household that has difficulty understanding her perspectives. She favors her African suitor over her rich boyfriend, much to the puzzlement of her family.
Even though her family is clearly poor, Beneatha has no reservations about feeding her ego. We learn that she “flits” from one expensive hobby to another as her mood dictates, even though it often seems that the family could use the money spent on Beneatha’s horseback riding, her camera equipment, her acting lessons, and her guitar lessons for other, more financially relevant things.
Beneatha’s “schooling” is a privilege that Walter Lee has not had, yet Beneatha appears to believe that a higher education is her right. Everyone in the family is making a sacrifice so that Beneatha can become a doctor — a fact pointed out by Walter Lee as they clash in the first scene of the play. Yet beneath what seems to be selfishness, Beneatha’s strengths are her spirit of independence, the fact that she is a “new woman” who refuses to accept the traditional, spineless female role, and the fact that she is so knowledgeable about Africa that her self-esteem is enhanced. Beneatha’s search for her identity is a motif carried throughout the play; the closer she gets to Africa via her relationship with Joseph Asagai, the more she develops into a pleasant, likeable, and less egocentric person.
Beneatha’s relationship with her mother is largely one of conflict because of their many differences, but it is not a strained relationship, for even after her mother slaps her for her blasphemous talk, Beneatha later hugs and thanks her mother for understanding her dismissal of George. She clearly loves her mother even if they do not always agree. Beneatha is opinionated, especially in her dealings with her brother, Walter Lee; she clearly lives up to her name, an obvious pun, for, especially at the beginning of the play, everything and everyone seem to be “beneath her.”