Akeelah and the Bee: Sociological Interpretation Essay

Even after so many years of awareness encouraged by apartheid and civil rights, America is still not free from the social discriminatory practices. The multicultural entity of America often gets questioned due to these social issues and out lawful behavior.  The plot of Akeelah and the Bee of 2006 is a representation discriminatory social construction for African-American people. The issue of neglecting their existence and negating their rights are prevalent in this American drama. Doug Atchison offers an insightful expedition to the plot and tries to inter-relate the situational instances of the protagonist to the real life conditions of America. The continuous struggle for the establishment of her identity is the core concern of the Atchison and he adds every possible act to show the pragmatic social set up of America for people from African origin.

This paper explores the role of Akeelah Anderson and investigates her acquisition with her family, friends, and acquaintances to overcome the aspects of identity crisis. The struggle of the protagonist to prove herself as an American citizen and an out and out patriot of US is the predominant matter of concern for this paper. With the motive to explore the discriminatory instances faced by Akeelah, the paper adds detailed elaborations from the original story.

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Multicultural Existence

The struggle for identity in Akeelah Anderson starts when her headmaster Mr. Welch introduces her to the world of spellings competition and the competition to prove her identity through Crenshaw Schoolwide Spelling Bee. Her potentiality to grasp and spell all kinds of English words makes her unique among her classmates. She gets recognition and continues winning different spelling contests held at different levels. In this journey of hers, the 11 years old child meets children from different cultural backgrounds and different countries. These are the children who were originally from different countries, yet adapted American culture as their lifestyle. The characters like Javier Mendez, a 12 year old Mexican-American boy and Dylan Chiu, a Chinese-American boy were her competitors and with whom Akeelah started feeling the difference. Though Akeelah was much aware of the difference that she carries in terms of skin color, yet was much confident about her intelligence and potentiality. It was in the birthday party of Dylan that Akeelah plays Scrabble with Dylan and gets defeated only by 2 points. In this context Dylan’s father reprimands Dylan if he loses and comments Akeelah as "a little black girl". This is a very strong comment for Akeelah as Dylan father tried to look down upon her for being black. These kinds of comments from a man like Dylan’s father represented the social discriminatory mind set among those people who are fairer in skin.

In a way, Atchison tries to interpret the roles of Javier and Dylan as a kind of challenge that Akeelah faces continuously. These boys try to own her and also get crash on her. Even after that they never loses the spirit of competitiveness and were determined enough to get hold of the national championship. Through these interpretations it has been well discovered that though other communities of America still try not to follow discriminatory behavior with the African-American, yet some point of the time or other they get into the bog and look down upon these people. These are the point of views that Atchison elaborated to create awareness among children about these discriminatory issues. He further shows the competitive instinct among people like Akeelah, for whom winning becomes mandatory to establish their identities in the society. Just to acquire a moderate position in a competition never remains an option for these students. Winning seems to be the only solution to declare their potentialities and to declare themselves as no inferior than any other community.

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Social Interventions

The roles like Dr. Larabee are introduced in the plot to offer the reader the scope to understand the fact that in spite of all kinds of apprehensions, there are people who still considers these discriminations as rumors created by media. People like Dr. Larabee support talented people and hardly look over the discriminatory factors. For these people talent cannot be demarcated by physical appearances. The support and the coaching that Akeelah received from Dr. Larabee were tremendously helpful for her and were the elements for offering her victory in the championship at Washington, D.C. It is at Washington, D.C, that Akeelah discovers the other side of American mentality. People here do not encourage discriminatory point of views and inspires pure talents.

The victory of Akeelah at Washington, D.C, establishes her as a budding intellect in the society and offers her immense social and cultural recognition. This victory changes her life totally and she feels the ground beneath her feet. She realizes that the discriminatory behavior that she had faced all trough her life has come to a halt by this victory. There seems to be none to look down upon her or to doubt her intelligent capabilities. All her neighbors, relatives and above all Mr. Welch get overwhelmed with joy. It was more like a victory of the entire community of African-American, than of Akeelah’s. It raises cheers from the grounds of Washington, D.C. to territorial existence of California. There was a flash of joy and happiness tat Akeelah could earn for her community and could prevent all those people who never considered her as worth the competition.

There is no denial to the fact that Akeelah faces troubles in trying to make a position in the society. Initially it has been discovered that she struggles against the identity crisis bestowed upon her by the society. After that there were continuous hindrances created on her way to get off of the spelling bee competition. The role of Tanya and her mother too were integral to this struggle. The interventions led by Tanya offered tremendous mental and psychological pressure to Akeelah. Though she knows that these kinds of hindrances can be overcome, yet the instances of depression and helpless were very obvious to Akeelah. The support from her mother came up as an ultimate boost to Akeelah and that turned her into a severe competitor. It is through her mother that Akeelah could realize the value of potentiality and the importance that she has been offered by the two sponsors. It is for the sake f these people that Akeelah developed her skills with more proficiency and became strong enough to meet the hurdles of competitive atmosphere.


Eventually, it can be established that in the plot of Akeelah and the Be, Atchison uses the Spelling Bee contest as a metaphorical representative of social competitiveness faced by African-American people in the social construction of the state. The character of Akeelah represents the entire society of African origin, living in America. It has been established that the other cultural communities of America usually do not offer these people with adequate respect. The sense of discrimination and negligence are their common practices. It can be thus well ascertained that even in the modern and contemporary society of multicultural America these discriminations creates enough pressure of people with African origin.

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