Akeelah And The Bee vs Scholarship Boy vs Achievement of Desire
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Akeelah and the Bee is a story of a girl caught between two worlds, her home life and the academic world of school and spelling bees. The story contains diverse and interwoven issues for the heroine, many of which are reminiscent of the trials of the "scholarship boy" described by Richard Hoggart in "A Scholarship Boy," and retold as the experiences of Richard Rodriguez in his "The Achievement of Desire." Each deals with a young intellectual who comes from a modest background and who struggles to excel academically and also maintain familiar connections with family and friends.
One of the main themes characteristic of all three works is the alienation from family and friends as studies require more effort and allow less time for more pleasurable pursuits. The character of Akeelah is presented to us in the film with the sense that she may already be feeling alienated from segments of her peers, as the camera hovers over her teacher's shoulder as she passes back a spelling test, showing Akeelah is the only one to receive a one-hundred percent. Later, a scene is shown depicting older girls calling Akeelah "freak" and attempting to coerce her into "taking care of their English homework" (Akeelah and the Bee). Her brother, catching her watching a tape of the national spelling bee, tells her, "you going up against a bunch of rich, white kids. They gonna tear your black ass up" (Akeelah and the Bee). These apparent feelings are both justified and intensified for her after winning the regional spelling bee and becoming something of a local celebrity. When she returns home from winning she finds her mom chastising her brother, who has just been dropped off by a police officer. The wind is taken out of her sails as her mother, attempting to impress a point on her son rather than appreciate the accomplishment of her daughter going to the state spelling bee, says, "while you doing that I'm gonna be identifying your brother here in the morgue" (Akeelah and the Bee). On the one hand, her accomplishment brings praise from her principal, the media, and some of her classmates. On the other, the divide begins to force distance between her and those to whom she had been close. She finds herself forced to lie to her mother in order to continue her education, forging a signature to a consent form to allow her to compete in the upcoming bee.