Sunday, 2 July 2017

Love, Sex and Growing Up

Today while watching the 1961film, Splendor in the Grass, directed by Elia Kazan ( Yes, he directed the hot Brando in The Streetcar Named Desire), I was wondering how the film holds relevance today, much like what it used to in the 20th century. The film largely deals with sexual repression, mental illness, Christian values, and other related aspects of growing up. Bud and Deanie are high-school sweethearts who enjoy a cosy relationship. While Bud would like to have sex with his girlfriend, Deanie resists, in spite of feeling the same for Bud. She owes this largely to the value system and the concept of being 'pure,' which is drilled into her psyche by her mother and the society in general.

I could closely relate to the film because when I was growing up, things were quite similar to the that of 1961. Every teen fellowship that I attended in Church emphasised of being 'pure' which is being a virgin and keeping the wedding bed undefiled. EVERY. SINGLE. CHURCH. MEETING. My aunts, as soon as I attained puberty would regale how every girl should be like 'fire' and not allow any guy to touch her. Somehow the idea that every boy was evil was drilled into my head. It was okay to fall in love but make sure that the boy in question does not touch you, was the common sentiment. I guess it is no much different today. In school, the couples in love who sat with an arm's distance from each other were always held up high on a pedestal. And if by chance, anyone tried talking about how the kiss of last evening, she would be labelled as a 'forward' girl - whatever that meant.

Teacher, priests, aunts, parents, even peers were always advising on how boys were mean creatures who have been sent by the devil to seduce and corrupt the girl. In the entire picture, it was conveniently forgotten that girls had the same feelings as well. Both the sexes were battling a thousand diverse feelings of passion and desire. In the film, Bud is quite exasperated and frustrated when Deaney does not allow him to go beyond kissing; He slowly withdraws from her in spite of loving her immensely. His father also advises him that he should have two kinds of girls - one the good kind like Deaney and the other - the one who would sleep with him without any qualms. Bud does that precisely but cannot two time Deaney and so breaks up with her, driving her to an institution for the mentally challenged.

The film in passing mentions Freud whose experiments on the connection between human psychology and sex made great breakthrough in the 20th c.  The film knits together various aspects of love and sex in a beautifully written story. Watching the film, I was led on a rueful journey through my teenage years and the various incidents colouring those times. While no one spoke of practising kindness, compassion and the virtues of knowledge, sex without being named was the preoccupation of every adult and of course, every teenager.

I hope the times are gradually changing now and parents strive to have healthy conversation with their children about various topics that affect them as they step into the turbulent teens.

I quote lines from the film, from the poem Splendour in the Grass (also the name of the film) by William Wordsworth:

What though the radiance
which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass,
We will grieve not, rather find
of glory in the flower,
Strength in what remains behind;
 . . .

Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet


  1. so whats your view now after all these years? if you were a counsellor to pre-teens/teens would you advise them that premarital sex is ok ? or whether chastity is overrated?...just curious to know if you think sexual mores have to keep up with times

    1. Dok, I just wish that along with chastity, there should be other things added. If I were a counsellor, I would probably let them know of the various kinds of living - which of course, would include sex and other aspects of growing up. There is a certain kind of fear which is imprinted in the mind which makes girls' stance on the subject, ambiguous. I guess this fear renders many to lose the pleasure of intimacy in their latter years.

  2. Not very much is actually "new under the sun" where love, sex, and growing up are concerned. Nathalie Wood , the female protagonist of Splendor in the Grass movie, is a tragic figure. She has found her untimely death in drowning - and to this day it is not very clear whether it was an accident, a suicidal act, or murder.

    1. You are right perhaps, DUTA. I have not read up on Wood. Wonder why she was so disillusioned.

      Hope you have been well and happy.

  3. The next time I read a blog, I hope that it does not disappoint me as much as this particular one.
    I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read, however I genuinely believed you would probably have something helpful
    to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you can fix if you weren't
    too busy looking for attention.

    1. I'm afraid that this post disappointed you but these were my genuine thoughts which were expressed. Perhaps it sounded like whining but then, whining once in a while is fine, I suppose. And yes, I AM looking for attention since this blog has not been receiving the due attention from me or my erstwhile readers.

      Thanks for stopping by and pausing to let your thoughts be known.




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