Making Connections (And a Bracelet)

While watching A Raisin in the Sun on Monday, I had multiple moments in which a lightbulb went on over my head and I was jotting things down because it had reminded me of something we’ve already read or watched this semester. Connecting the film to course material from earlier in the semester had reminded me of the first day of class when Dr. McCoy had given each of us three beads and string to form a bracelet. I saw the three similarities I found between the different course material and the film as being representative of the beads and A Raisin in the Sun as being the string or thru line, tying each of the course materials together into one piece.

The first bead is for the similarities between Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” and the film. Beneatha in A Raisin in the Sun doesn’t seem to want her family to assimilate to white culture and instead looks toward the traditions of Africa through her Nigerian classmate, Joseph Asagai. This is reminiscent of Dee in “Everyday Use”. I thought the two were specifically similar through their attachment to different materials that are considered traditions of their heritage. In “Everyday Use” Dee insists on having her grandmother’s quilts, but her mother does not give them to her. She then says that both her mother and sister do not understand their heritage. Beneatha looks at the robe that Asagai brings her from Nigeria similarly.

The second bead is for the conversation about childhood being a non-consensual  experience. One of the most poignant scenes in the film to me was when the matriarch of the family, Lena told Beneatha to repeat “In my mother’s house there’s still God” despite her showing her disagreement toward this. This scene reminded me of the poem “On Children” by Kahlil Gibran. Gibran writes “You may give them your love but not your thoughts,/For they have their own thoughts”. Lena is trying to push the idea of God onto Beneatha even though she’s said that she does not believe in God. Lena cannot accept that her daughter does not think in the same way that she does.  It reminded me of the class discussion and how children are often forced to do things their parents tell them to such as coming home at a certain time or being told what to eat.

The last bead is representative of the danger of a single story that Chimamanda Adichie warns about in her TED Talk. When Asagai comes to visit Beneatha and is introduced to Lena, Lena refers to Africa as being the country in which Asagai comes from. In her TED Talk, Adichie talks about how Africa is often referred to as a country instead of the continent that it is. Asagai also gets caught up in the single story narrative of America and says that all American women are the same after Beneatha tells him she won’t be “someone’s little episode in America”.

Being able to make connections while reading is an important skill to have as a reader as it helps to strengthen comprehension. I’ve noticed that this class has truly made me a better reader as we have constantly been making connections between pieces. Not only have I been making connections between pieces from this class, but I’ve been making connections between pieces across each of my classes which is the beauty of an interdisciplinary education.

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