Books and Movies Reviews

Daughters of the Dust: Themes

The film, Daughters of the Dust, written and directed by Julie Dash, recounts the story of the Peazant family.They are members of the Gullah people, a tribe living on a group of islands off the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina in 1902 who are descended from slaves, but have still managed to keep much of their West African culture alive.The story begins as all the members of the Peazant family gather together for one final meal before half the family is to leave the islands and sail north to the mainland in search of a better life.Through this seemingly simple premise, a multitude of themes and stories of individual characters are woven together to create a picture of what life was like for these people and to send a definite message to the viewing audience.All the major characters in the film, including the family elder Nana Peazant, the family outcast Yellow Mary, Eli Peazant, Eli’s Wife Eula, and their Unborn Child, have their own stories to tell but all relate to the same major themes of the movie.The major themes in this film include that of acceptance and tolerance, equality, a return to roots, connections back to life in Africa, and finally religion.
One of the more dominant themes throughout the film is that of acceptance and tolerance.The Peazant family seems to be a very closely knit unit, but relations between them as the time of their separation approaches have become very strained.Acceptance and tolerance are seen clearly in the stories of Eli coming to terms with the fact that his wife is carrying the child of a white man who raped her, the eventual acceptance of Yellow Mary, a lesbian, and also in the eventual acceptance and tolerance of the several different religions practiced throughout the family.These religions, another major theme of the film, include the traditional African religion kept alive by Nana Peazant, Christianity which has been embraced by members of the family who have been exp…

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