Custom «African American Literary Heritage» Essay Paper Sample
1. What character(s) from the play is missing from the film? Why do you think this (these) character (s) were not included in the film?
Will Harris and Mrs. Johnson, the Youngers' neighbor, are the two characters from the play that are not featured in the film. I think that the absence of these characters in the film is due to their minor roles in developing the plot. Mrs. Johnson, for instance, appears in the play only when she visits the Younger family for petty issues- like reporting about a black family that was bombed in a white neighborhood (Act II, scene ii). Although her contribution helps to heighten the tension between Blacks and Whites, Mrs. Johnson does not contribute to the main plot revolving around the experiences of the Younger family. Consequently, her role in the film is insignificant because she does not influence the film's plot in any way.
Concerning Will Harris, I think that the director of the film decided to follow the play's original script. In the play, Harris does not make any stage appearance. We know about him through other characters- like Bobo and Walter. Thus, he remains faceless throughout the play. On another perspective, the play and the film's focus is on the experiences of the Younger family and not on the theft carried out by Will Harris.
2. The scene in which Beneatha and Walter Lee are dancing to record of "tribal" music is a very crucial scene. Compare and contrast reading this scene in the play and seeing it on film.
In the play, the tribal dance lacks the rhythm and liveliness displayed in the film. In the play, one could wrongly interpret Beneatha's teasing as an indication of her dislike of African/Negro culture. However, the film makes it clear that she is only joking, and in fact very proud of the tribal dance as a black person. The element of acting complements the characters' words to emphasis their pride for their African/Negro roots.
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3. Describe Lena's reaction to Walter losing the money.
At first, Lena (Mama) is outraged by Walter's recklessness which caused him to lose the money. It suggests that she had some emotional attachment to the money- the insurance money represented the life of her late husband, and its value was equivalent to all his years of toil and hard work. The money was also like a fulfillment of the dreams of the family members, and a door into a new beginning- such as purchasing a new home and paying for Beneatha's tuition fee. Walter's reaction on learning that Harris had run away with the money portrays the connection that the family members held between the money and their future. He laments that "That money is made out of my father's flesh" (Act II. Iii). Thus, it explains Lena's anger and the beating she gave Walter. However, she calms afterwards to assume her caring nature, demonstrating that she is the pillar of the family. This character is displayed through her praying for strength in the family.
4. Who do you think is the main character (protagonist) of the play? Explain.
I think that Walter Younger is the protagonist of the play. From the onset, he is concerned about the family's problems and thinking about their solutions. In the absence of his father, he is the visible head of the family, despite his mother's dominating role as the leading light. Similarly, his mother gives him the remaining money as a way of making him the head of the family (Act II scene ii). Most importantly, the plot rotates around his actions, such as his plans for the money and the family, as well as his blunder in investing the money with Will Harris. More than any other character, his actions affect all the other members of the family, thereby making him the central actor in the play. He is the one around whom the plot of the play is developed, based on his actions and interactions with other characters.
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5. Discuss the role of Beneatha's suitors in the play/film. What/who do you think Joseph Asagai and George Murchison represent? Explain.
Beneatha's two suitors help to portray the differences between the black and white cultures, the struggle for cultural emancipation and the theme of assimilation of the black people into the White-American society. In this regard, Joseph Asegai represents the black people-Africans in general and their culture. He also represents freedom from the obsession with the white culture, because of his pride for the African culture. His suggestion that Beneatha should go back to Africa with him portrays the desire to break free from white domination.
On the other hand, George Murchison represents slavery of the mind by the White people's culture. He dreams of fitting into the Whites' society by aping their lifestyle. He also wishes that Beneatha could be like a White lady so that he could marry him. In this regard, Murchison is a symbol of the domination of the white culture over the black culture, and the process of assimilation of blacks into the Whites social space.