As we collectively read A Raisin in the Sun, we come across so many themes and points throughout the piece. There’s common sayings that go around when a book has a corresponding movie. “The book is way better than the movie” or “no way, the movie was so much better than the book!” It is true that certain parts of books can be more exciting and thrilling once seen in a moving picture. A Raisin in the Sun has many of these moments, one being the infamous scene of Beneatha’s folk dancing.
It has been made clear that Beneatha values her heritage and wants to embrace who she is without being shut down for it. In Act 2 Scene 1, we see this first hand. Ruth comes into question Beneatha’s doings by stating “what kind of dance is that?” and “what kind of folks do that, honey?”(77). Beneatha quickly explains that it is a dance of welcome from Nigeria, and she begins her chants to the music, “alundi alundi, alundi alunya, jop pu a jeepua, ang gu soooooooooo, ai yai yae, ayehaye-alundi”(77). Reading this can be VERY boring. This is an important scene, but it can be very impersonal since as readers, we aren’t able to see Beneatha dancing, or hear the music she is dancing too. This can be crucial in understanding a text, in that since we aren’t “in the moment” with her, we have to imagine it ourselves. This imagining can vary from person to person. Since no one will think the same, this can then create different meanings throughout an audience.
Watching the scene from the movie gives the audience a completely different light on the scene. Seeing Beneatha change the music, and watching how serious her face as shes dancing, you can really see the family’s dynamic. Ruth questioning her and Walter coming in drunk is brought to life. Hearing the hype of the music and the strong vibe it gives off, you can almost relate the beat of the music to how Beneatha chooses to represent herself. As well as this, she is in tribal clothing, which is the cherry on top in her presentation. The strength Beneatha carries in wanting to become a doctor and wanting to be more comfortable in being a young black woman is shown in this scene. It also shows how she doesn’t care what her family has to say about her and her beliefs. She is a free spirit who has important aspirations for her life.
Also, you can read the disappointment as George enters the scene, as he abruptly tells Beneatha to change, he states “look honey, we’re going to the theatre-we’re not going to be in it…so go change huh?”(80). In watching this, you can visualize Beneatha’s face, and how disgusted George is with her actions. When it comes to body language and seeing reactions on characters faces, it can help immensely in understanding a story line and its hidden meanings. Of course, since this is a play, the stage directions within the book can help with determining how a character is feeling or what their physical movements are. It’s almost like reading a text. You can never really tell how the person on the opposite side is feeling through a text, and is also why most people say it’s good to do things in person.
A Raisin in the Sun embodies so many different life lessons, and in this particular scene being true to yourself can be a huge takeaway. Beneatha’s care-free personality blossoms in the film, and you can see how she presents herself and how she interacts with her family. In this case, having a film and a book helps the audience tremendously in understanding the Younger family dynamic.
- How does the film change your perspective on Beneatha’s personality?
- What does the book embody that the film doesn’t? What does the film take on that might not be clear in the book?