Analysis of A House Divided

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A House Divided is a movie that is base on the will of one man. David Dixon is a slave and plantation owner. He acquired many slaves throughout the years and was considered one of the nicer slave owners in Hancock County, Georgia. His mother Elizabeth lives on the plantation with him. Mr. Dixon purchases Julia, 14 at the time, and immediately becomes attracted to her. Julia is a well-educated slave who knows how to read and write. She works in the house along side Elizabeth and helps with different tasks. David forces himself onto Julia and she become pregnant. She tries to kill the baby and that is how David finds out. Months later Julia has a baby girl, Amanda, who is born with light skin. David raises Amanda as his own, with help from his mother inventing a story that Amanda's mother died in child birth. Elizabeth baths Amanda in milk to prevent her from turning any darker.

Julia watches as her daughter grows up and enjoys freedom she has never known. Throughout Amanda's life Julia watched over her and took care of her.

Amanda grows up to be a proper young lady and meets a solider, who is very interested in her. They talk and meet occasionally, until he ask Amanda to marry him. David and Elizabeth know this could never happen because after all Amanda still is half African American. Amanda is confused and doesn't know why she is not allowed to marry the man that she loves. Finally Julia forces David to tell Amanda who her mother really is. Amanda can not believe and refuses to think that a black slave is her biological mother. Amanda ends up running away and doesn't every want to come back. David is so heart broken that his daughter has left him that he goes out and searches for her. A few months later he returns with no hope. Not soon after returning defeated David Dixon dies. Amanda returns to Hancock County to find out that her father has left her his entire estate in his will. Henry, David's younger brother, contest the will saying that a black daughter has no right to David's land. Amanda hires the help of Charles Dubose, a lawyer, who agrees to take her case.

Slowly but surely the facts of the past are unraveled. Julia and Amanda see each other again for the first time in years. After some debating Amanda comes to the realization that Julia, her mother, was just trying to do what was best for her by letting Amanda be free and have opportunities a slave would never know. Throughout the case race, family, and politics are all brought to the table. Julia, Amanda, Henry, and other slaves are brought to the stand to testify the legitimacy of David's will. In the end, David Dickson's will stands. Amanda acquires the Dickson plantation.

A House Divided exhibits the primary features of women's agency through the lives of the main characters: Julia Frances Sims, Amanda Dixon, and David Dixon. Throughout the story these character experience different episodes with different themes including: the spirit of rebellion, interracial and intra-racial concepts, and issues of race, class, and color.

Throughout the story Julia flirts with the concept of rebellion. From the very first encounter with David she fought him off. When he attacked her, Julia battled furiously. Julia found out she was pregnant she pretended not to want the baby and even tried to kill it. Julia rebelled against David until the very end of the story. In one of the last scenes, before David dies he approaches Julia. Their conversation consist of David making amends and trying to let Julia know a little of how he feels. Julia does not tolerate this, and even though she is free and no longer under his command she still addresses his as master. Julia's spirit of rebellion is present from her introduction into the story, until the end.

Another main theme used in the movie is that of interracial and intra-racial issues. The interracial theme is present many times throughout the story starting with Julia and David. Obviously Julia was a young black slave and David was her white master. When Julia become pregnant with David's child, the interracial theme becomes present as well. When Amanda is born she is of fare skin and can pass for a white child. With the help of his mother David passes Amanda off as purely white. Later in the story Amanda will come to meet a fine young man, who will want to marry her. Unfortunately, because of her black back ground this cannot happen. This interracial couple, although not by appearance, is more the forbidden by society.

Obviously through the story race, color, and class are major issues. Even though Julia is a black slave, she is not treated like the other slaves. She works in the house and takes care of Amanda. In one episode in the story, right after Amanda was born, David walks outside. A slave makes a comment to David about Julia and the baby. David takes offense to this and ends up hitting the slaving and wrestling him to the ground. Another scene Julia is helping out with inventory and keeping track of the records on the plantation. She offers a tip to David, telling him if he were to offer rewards for the best pickers he would have give the slaves a reason to work hard. At first he disagrees with listening to her. But after David thinks about it, he decides to give the best slave pickers some extra money. Even though Julia is a black slave, she is not just a slave. She has input on the plantation and isn't exactly treated with the same disregard as the other slaves.

The primary features of women's agencies are displayed throughout the lives of David Dixon, Amanda Dixon, and Julia Frances Sims in the movie A House Divided. Different themes are also used to display the features of women's agencies through these characters. Many different themes occur, but so of the common theme's seen in many different episodes include intra-racial and interracial issues, spirit rebellion, and race color and class themes. A House Divided is a strong movie that represents many of the issues in society during that point in history.