In “Exiled at Home,” one of the things that Cucinella and Curry discuss is Iona’s chosen exile, which is something I thought about in relation to question #5 about the resolution of Daughters of the Dust. Iona’s choice to leave with St. Julian Last Child is really interesting to me because throughout the film the characters generally discuss two options: staying at home on the island and maintaining the connection to the family’s ancestors, history, and culture, or leaving for the mainland in pursuit of what some characters deem a better, more modern life. While Iona doesn’t play a large role in most of the movie, her decision at the end presents a separate third option outside of what the family argues about throughout the whole film. Cucinella and Curry say that this decision “involves a remaking of home,” with Iona rejecting both other options in favor of creating a new life with St. Julian Last Child (215).
I think that the ending does provide some resolution in the sense that you get to see the characters make their final decisions on whether to stay or go, but Iona’s self-exile shakes things up and left me wondering what long term impact her choice has on her as well as her mother and the rest of the group going to the mainland. I also found it notable that while Haagar references the meaning of Iona’s name, calling out “I own her,” Iona’s choice allows her to chart her own future independent of the others. In the end, she is owned neither by her mother and her goal of making her daughters “decent somebodies” on the mainland, or by the traditions Nana is trying to uphold. She instead makes a decision outside of the options the other characters’ discuss, introducing a third possibility for how members of the family can choose to live.