Spot the Difference

Andrea Moro

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. 

  1. How does the film change your perspective on Beneatha’s personality? 
  2. What does the book embody that the film doesn’t? What does the film take on that might not be clear in the book?

6 Replies to “Spot the Difference”

  1. Hi Andrea! I loved the way you shed light on the fact that sometimes we need to see a scene acted out to fully understand it and/or receive the writer’s message. I agree with you in saying that the tribal dance scene is much more effective when observed as opposed to read. To answer your first discussion question, and in accordance to my previous statement, Beneatha’s strong-willed, confident, feminist personality is exposed in a much more meaningful way in the book. Her seriousness in response to any situation, especially ones in which her beliefs are being questioned, is stressed by the addition of her body language, tone, and facial expressions. For example, when Asagai comes to their home to speak with her, Beneatha reacts very strongly to his comments on the subject of identity and race. When only slightly referred to as one in act I scene ii, Beneatha says, “(Wheeling, passionately, sharply) I am not an assimilationist!” (51). While the stage directions give the reader an idea as to how she is reacting, similar to what you said before, only the acting out of the scene can truly capture the moment in the way the writer wants to.

  2. Hey Andrea! I loved reading your blog post because I had the exact same reaction. Reading this story has been somewhat difficult for me to truly understand all the emotions this family is feeling throughout it. I really enjoyed the point you made with Beneatha and how you compared the scene of her dancing in the book verse the movie. It is significantly different because in the movie you are able to truly see how passionate she is about what she is doing even if everyone makes fun of her. To add to your point, I believe during that scene when Walter walks in and starts chanting with her definitely seems more dramatic in the movie. In the book I felt like they were just joking around and having fun but watching the movie you really saw how hopelessly drunk Walter was and the look on Ruths face makes me feel sorry for her. Even just hearing her say “What’s the matter with you? Walter Lee Younger, get down off that table and stop acting like a fool…”(P.79) It is portrayed with much more embarrassment in the movie then the way I had read it. I find your comment very interesting because often times we picture scenes in ways the author may not have intended and watching the movie is an interesting way to see how others viewed certain scenes.

  3. Hi Andrea! First, I’d like to say that I think that you are a great writer! I’ve obviously read the book and watched the movie as well, but I never paid attention to the example of Beneatha embracing her heritage that you gave. After reading your blog post, I went back to that scene of the movie and I agree that it felt less personal in the book. Although this was an example of the movie being more personal, I’d like to share an example of the book being more personal. On page 91 Ruth says “Praise God!” and the author describes that she raises both arms classically, and as she tells Walter Lee to be glad. In the movie, Ruth did not do this action. While reading the book I could vividly imagine Ruth saying, “Praise God!” while raising her hands. I would of enjoyed if the movie put more emphasis on Ruth’s action, to show more emotion as how the book did.

  4. Hey Andrea! Examining the book and movie was a really interesting way to explore the depth of the characters. I would agree with you that the movie does bring a more emotional element to it when you really get to see the characters body language or facial expressions. The scene between Beneatha and George takes on a much more serious tone in the movie. George is a direct contrast to Asagai and his lack of appreciation for their culture clearly bothers Beneatha. On page 81 she rightfully speaks out, “GRASS HUTS!…See there…you are standing there in your splendid ignorance talking about people who were the first to smelt iron on the face of the earth!” Before this we have a list provided by George of all the other African topics that Beneatha is educated on. She shows her strength and passion for who she is through this exploration. The movie, the actress in particular, did a phenomenal portrayal and I can say it definitely made Beneatha a more related character for me.

  5. Hey Andrea! I have always loved seeing the difference between a book and its movie. I love how i could read something in one way then see and actor play the character in a different way. The scene you mentioned was also one of my favorites to see acted out compared to being read. one of my favorites came from the very beginning of act one when Beneatha is dressed in African clothes and dancing to what she calls a folk dance. “You are looking at what a well dressed African woman wears.” (78) This is one of my favorite scenes because of how pure it is. With everything going on in their lives they are still able to dance around and in some way, play. This was really fun to watch

  6. Hi Andrea, I really enjoyed reading your blog post because I agree with your point on how books and movies can be perceived in a completely different light. While I was watching the movie, the scene you have described was very interesting to me because there are so many comparable differences between reading the book and watching the movie. While watching the movie, we are able to see a switch of atmosphere and how the characters interact with one another, which to me is able to bring this story completely to life. To further your argument, the biggest difference I have noticed between the book and the movie is the emotion that I am able to feel while watching the movie that doesn’t have the same effect as reading the book. An example of this is during Act II Scene 3 when Bobo tells Walter that Willie has run off with his money. Walter states “Man, I trusted you . . . Man, I put my life in your hands . . . Man . . . THAT MONEY IS MADE OUT OF MY FATHER’S FLESH.” (128) I chose this scene because when I was watching this movie, I truly felt Walter’s anger and frustration, which didn’t impact me the same way while I was reading the book.

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