The Daughters of the Dust Research Papers
The Daughters of the Dust is a film that can easily be explored in a research paper by the writers at Paper Masters because it has so many interesting aspects of symbolism within the film. Have Paper Masters customize your project to reflect on any part of the film, any character or just give an overall review of The Daughters of the Dust.
The Daughters of the Dust is a film that illustrates the connectedness of African Americans in their traditional customs to their emerging presence in the blended and non-Afrocentric culture of America in 1902. The ancestral and religion is reflected in the Peazant family’s decision to move to the mainland and leave behind the “old ways” of the Gullah communal existence and, in doing so, embrace Christianity and the world view of America in what is thought of as progress and “a better life” by those Peazant’s which wish to leave. The film’s ultimate message is that the traditional African customs can symbiotically meld with the Christian traditions to formulate a new definition of what Christianity and religion mean to the African Americans of the early 20th Century.
Symbolism in The Daughters of the Dust
Symbolism abounds in the film in the following ways:
- Nana representing the old and Haagar
- The granddaughter-in-law of Nana, representing the new
- Haagar, as the leader of the movement to the mainland, may be symbolic of the Biblical Hagar, who was eventually banished from Abraham’s house and went back to Egypt to became the mother of another race
- Nana’s “old tin can” represents the old ways and the traditions of the Gullah
- The main message in the story is symbolized by The Bible in which Nana ties elements such as charms from her tin can to the sacred text and demonstrates that the traditional folkways of Africa can be melded with Christianity
Nana’s staunch refusal to embrace the idea of traveling to the mainland juxtaposes itself with Haagar’s horror at the “hoodoo mess” that Nana created. In Haagar’s eyes, she held no compassion for Nana’s holdings “We’re moving into a new day, she’s too much a part of the past.”
The symbols of the film all reflect change. From the very beginning of the film change is foreshadowed as the narrator, Eula’s unborn baby, states, “My story begins before I was born. Nana saw the family coming apart. Flowers to bloom in distant places.” Flowers are the young and those adventuring out to the mainland. Conversely, representing the old, or the traditional is the symbol of the floating figure as a visual reminder of African ancestry. The floating figure is meant to remind the characters of the spirit of the slaves and the Gullah culture. Therefore, the film represents the complexity of how all things in life touch each other.