A) Character's Behavior
We are first introduced to Ruth as she is up early, cooking for her family though they will complain and hardly eat later. She is weary and worn, nearly like the furnishings of the apartment they live in. She is understandably irritated with Walter for his hollow dreams and false desires -- she is too disenchanted to believe him anymore. It is evident that their relationship is flawed -- Walter doesn't feel like a man, and Ruth wants a man who feels like a man
I find it significant that when Walter asks her why she's always trying to give him something to eat, she says:
What else can I give you, Walter Lee Younger?
She has nothing to give him but her consistence, loyalty and nourishment of the physical. She's actually quite generous as Walter gives her nothing but emptiness.
Hansberry added another controversial issue when Ruth was contemplating abortion. Though she gives a slightly pro-life view, she displays how it is easy for someone who is not evil or depraved to get in a bad situation and not want to bring a new life into the world.
While Ruth is one of the simplest characters in the play, that doesn't make her any less essential. She symbolizes thousands of people living, working, breathing every day, not asking all that much from life but knowing that it will demand high stakes from them. We are told that she was once extraordinarily pretty. There is such sadness in this, that this dulled woman was once radiant with life. She is almost bitter but not quite there, leaving the chance for her to achieve her dreams and be happy.
Ruth does not have a particularly assertive personality, nor a particularly submissive personality. She's not hot or cold, just lukewarm. About most things she appears to be rather conservative in contrast to Beneatha's liberalism. She's most like mama in her demeanor. She'll probably be like Mama when she gets older.
Ruth doesn't ask for much. All she wants is to build a happy family, and she thinks that one step towards this goal is owning a bigger and better place to live. She's worked for years as a cook in a rich white lady's home but has no self-pity or complaints like Walter.
Character's Feelings About Other Characters
Ruth feels respectful and appreciative of mama's wisdom, and is probably closer to mama than anyone. Ruth can hardly understand Beneatha struggling for an identity when Ruth has only had time to struggle for physical needs in her life.
Though strong-willed and seemingly dominant, Ruth knows when to let Walter win. After all, this is the 1950's when men were the heads of the household without question -- Hansberry wouldn't have wanted to be too controversial with that. When Walter asks her for money she doesn't remind him of his former aplomb, rather she is loving and generous. She has mastered the rule of give and take. Other Character's Feelings About Ruth
Ruth isn't really a stand-out character, probably because she is only an ordinary woman. The only time she really stands out is when she talks about abortion. Even then the other characters don't look down upon her--they understand the reasons she would consider abortion. Ruth is a part of the family and she doesn't cause any conflicts, so none of the other characters have strong opinions concerning her.
Even Walter doesn't have strong opinions concerning her. At one point in the play he asks her what happened between them but even then their relationship isn't strenthened. We are told that Mama respects Ruth more than she respects her own son, so this is something significant.
(standing and looking at him helplessly) What else can I give you, Walter Lee Younger?
You expect this boy to go out with you with your hair all nappy like that?
(passionately and suddenly) Oh, Walter--ain't you with nobody!
Oh, Walter . . . Honey, why can't you stop fighting me?
Now you get out of here and get ready for your beating
Well--well!--All I can say is--if this is my time in life--MY TIME--to say good-bye--to these goddamned cracking walls!--and these marching roaches--and this cramped little closet which ain't now or never was no kitchen! . . . then I say it loud and good, HALLELUJAH! AND GOOD-BYE MISERY . . I DON'T NEVER WANT TO SEE YOUR UGLY FACE AGAIN!