Within Julie Dash’s film, Daughters of the Dust, there is a character that she put in the film’s plot that is detached from the film’s main focus group (the Peazant family). This character is the photographer Mr. Snead. I feel like throughout the film, Dash intended for him to serve many purposes; some more general, while other purposes you have to really pay attention to him to catch on to.
In the more general sense of his usage, Dash utilizes Mr. Snead as a connector of sorts. There are points where he is the one who is connecting and progressing the plot. An example of this is the dialogue that he shared with some of the family members on the beach near the beginning of the film. He spoke to them about their traditions and values as a whole. Through this dialogue, we learn more about the Peazant family’s members and the similarities as well as differences between them. This provides better insight to the tensions to come later on in the film. Later in the film, Mr. Snead is getting spoken to by a family member about her view on the older generation and how they are leaving all of their faith to “magic” and the ancestors but none of their faith to god. Like these two examples, there are many instances of this where he is seen as a general, small piece that is vital to the progression of the plot.
Looking a little deeper into his role, he can be seen as an outsider from the character line up. He shows life outside of the island. In direct relation to this first line, when he brings out the kaleidoscope, he is showing different lives that are available out there in the world. In another sense, he can be seen as looking down on the Peazant family that is living on the island. For example, he has and uses a camera, he wears “better” clothes than them, and he speaks multiple languages. He is a living embodiment of symbolizing life off of the island. Additionally, he is very separated from them visually further than what was just mentioned in the previous sentence. There are many super small details that (may have been intentional) set him apart visually from the Peazant family; he is much jumpier than they are, he is much sweatier, and his personality and mannerisms are significantly different. So in conclusion to the second half, Dash uses Mr. Snead as a “control” person in a sense so that while watching the film you have someone who you can visually see that shows you what life off of the island actually is.