Black Women Writers @ Southwestern University

An English / Feminist Studies / Race & Ethnicity Studies Course Blog

Daughters of the Dust: spirituality throughout the film

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Daughters of the Dust… W O W. I was shocked by the beauty of the film and the way in which the story was portrayed.

Upon some personal research, I came across a website that paralleled the film to biblical themes. I thought this idea was particularly interesting, especially with the verses it presented. I share one below:

“Shake yourself from the dust and arise; be seated, O Jerusalem; loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion” – Isaiah 52:2.

I think the idea of emerging life in the verse above particularly mirrors that portrayed in the film. Not only were the Gullah people former slaves, but they were walking into freedom and embarking into a new life. The movie begins and ends with dust; blown softly into the camera by a wind as the narration begins and ends.

This made me think of the words “from dust you have come and to dust you will return,” another prominent scriptural reference. I wondered a lot about how this was carried further into the film. There were multiple instances in which the family was gathered around and Viola would be shouting Christian teachings or remarking to Yellow mary how she was “sinful.”

I was confused with how the religious themes intertwined with the film; there seemed to be multiple contradictions of spirituality. Yet even so, I noticed an acceptance and respect of all the different religious and cultural traditions regardless of their oppositions. There was Nana with her sacred objects and strands of cut hair and then Viola harshly refusing to press her lips to them and “carry Nana’s spirit with her…”

I thought this all had much to say about the Gullah people, particularly with their respect and acknowledgement of each other’s spirituality.

I’m curious to hear y’all’s thoughts on this and how it affected you, if at all, through the watching of the film.

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One thought on “Daughters of the Dust: spirituality throughout the film

  1. I never realized how much spirituality was in Daughters of the Dust. I mean, sure, there’s the one Muslim character, the Nana’s charms, and the Christian themes, but I never put it all together until now. Considering one of the major characters is dead though, it makes sense that spirituality would be a big factor in the story.

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