The Youngers are a Negro family living in three crowded, sunless rooms on Chicago's South Side. The squalid routine of their lives is suddenly disrupted when Lena Younger receives a $10,000 check from the company that insured her late husband. Lena wants to use the money to buy a house and to help her daughter, Beneatha, finish medical school. Lena's son, Walter Lee, however, wants to invest the money in a liquor store so he can rise above his status of chauffeur for a wealthy white man. Lena disapproves of the idea and makes a down payment of $3,500 on a small house in a white neighborhood. Frustrated and enraged, Walter Lee quarrels with his mother and his wife, Ruth, and storms out of the flat. He stays away from work for 3 days, and Lena finds him in a bar. She offers him the remaining $6,500 ($3,500 of which is to be set aside for Beneatha's education). Once more united and optimistic, the family prepares to move into their new home. Not even a visit from a hypocritical representative of an "improvement association," who offers to buy back the house at a higher price to preserve the community's all-white character, can alter their decision to move. Then their world collapses. Unknown to the rest of the family, Walter Lee invests the entire $6,500 in a liquor store and is swindled. Realizing he has betrayed his mother's trust, threatened his sister's future, and thrown away his father's life savings, Walter Lee desperately decides to accept the "improvement association"'s offer. But under the eyes of his entire family, he sees that such a move is only a step backwards, and he once more rejects the offer. Though it means hard work and years of sacrifice for all, the Youngers make their move.