Black Women Writers @ Southwestern University

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

Daughters of the Dust and symbolism

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I’ve always found it difficult to watch films and search for symbolism in each scene; it tires me out to think that everything – from camera angle to lighting to color to object placement – is intentional. But it’s very obvious in Daughters of the Dust that everything is intentional and the entire film is designed to provoke thought in the audience members. And that’s not to say that I understood everything because I definitely didn’t.  I think this is a film that I would have to watch multiple times to fully understand, and each time focus on one symbolic aspect, such as the Unborn Child and why she’s in specific scenes and the significance of showing her running so many times. Our discussion on Wednesday after the film was enlightening and made me think about things I could focus on if I watch the film again – the lone Native American man, the shots of bare feet running on the earth, the indigo dye.

Angeletta Gourdine’s focus on symbolism of the clothing in the film was intriguing to read. I love that clothes can carry so much significance. Viola’s “tight-fitted apparel betrays [her] restrained demeanor,” whereas the “lattice pattern on the front of [Yellow Mary’s] blouse… draws sensual attention to her bust line” and the rest of her outfit adds to her “freedom” and “forthright sexuality.”  It’s amazing how Gourdine is able to recognize so many characteristics of the women just by analyzing their costumes.

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