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What is a novel or movie in which sex is suggested, but not described? How is this...

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jessicanique | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 25, 2011 at 11:30 AM via web

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What is a novel or movie in which sex is suggested, but not described? 

How is this relationship suggested? How does this implication affects the theme or develops characterization?

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pacorz | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted July 25, 2011 at 1:10 PM (Answer #2)

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Probably the most famous example of this sort of scene that can be found  in the movies is in Gone With the Wind. There's a scene where Rhett Butler is drunk, and he tells Scarlett O'Hara that he loves her; it's not a pleasant conversation, however. Scarlett breaks off the conversation and walks away from Rhett. Suddenly Rhett runs up behind her and sweeps Scarlett up into his arms, kisses her rather violently, and then carries her up the grand staircase. That's where teh scene ends, but it's impossible to watch it and not know what happens behind that closed bedroom door at the top of the stairs. Take a look at the link below to see this scene for yourself.

This is a major turning point for the plot of Gone With the Wind. Before this Rhett has been playing it cool and Scarlett has been pining for another man. This scene lets us know that they have become lovers. The overt sexiness of the scene was a very big deal when the movie was released in 1939.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 26, 2011 at 11:52 PM (Answer #3)

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This is very common in Victorian novels. To outwardly describe anything sexual would have been improper. So instead we get descriptions of dinners, dances, walks in the countryside and carriage rides. Sexual tension is present throughout, and there is even hints that the deed has been done. But we never actually see it.

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K.P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted July 29, 2011 at 4:12 PM (Answer #4)

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A movie with a famous example of a suggestion of intimacy is West Side Story. Tony and Maria have just sung their brilliant duet, "Tonight." The camera pans across to a wall and the lights fade out. This develops the plot and characterization so that Tony's death has the greatest possible meaning for Maria.

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lfawley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted August 1, 2011 at 12:13 PM (Answer #5)

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In Tennessee William's "A Streetcar Named Desire" the rape of Blanche (sex in its most violent form) is not depicted in the play. It is alluded to. The film follows the same conventions. We see the lead-in, the violence, but not the act of sex/rape itself and this makes the moment and the aftermath all the more powerful. Because we do not see what has occurred, much the same as Stella does not see what Stanley did to her sister, we can choose to avert our eyes from what it has done to the already broken and fragile Blanche.The rape finishes the task of destroying Blanche's tentative grasp of sanity, it breaks the relationship between Stella and her husband through the erosion of trust, it destroys and chance Mitch has of ever letting go of the lies and giving Blanche a chance - and it also makes him confirm his opinions on love, I think. I feel Mitch will now end up as a bachelor forever.

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zward03 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted August 5, 2011 at 1:37 AM (Answer #6)

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The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway -

Brett Ashley is a socialite who bounces from man to man, all while Jake is hopelessly in love with her. She has implied sexual relationships with Mike and Romero the bullfighter. Jake also implies that his war injury left him impotent, but Lady Brett is unwilling to give up on sex, even if she truly loves Jake.

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted August 31, 2011 at 5:40 AM (Answer #8)

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One of my all-time favorite movies is A Summer Place. It is just full of sex, but the most you ever see onscreen is a chaste kiss. The plot of the story is that a former handyman at a New England inn has become wealthy and has brought his wife and daughter to the inn for the summer. When he worked at the inn, he had fell in love with a girl who also worked there, and who now happens to be married to the inn's owner. They rekindle their romance, are eventually discovered, and end up divorcing their spouses and marrying each other.

Meanwhile, his teenage daughter and her teenage son discover each other and fall madly in love. They manage to keep their virginity all that summer--even though her mother is insanely suspicious of them. One afternoon, the sail out to a nearby island and get caught in a storm. They have to stay on that island all night until the storm lets up. When they finally get back to the inn, her mother is waiting with a doctor who is going to examine her to make sure she is still a virgin. After their parents' divorce and remarriage, the two teenagers are still in love and find ways to be together. It's complicated, but she ends up getting pregnant--and all we ever know is that they can't stop thinking about being bad!!

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted September 7, 2011 at 12:06 AM (Answer #9)

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In Kate Chopin's The Awakening, the main character, Edna Pontieller falls in love with a young man, Robert -- a man other than her husband.  What is interesting is that they never have a sexual relationship although they are very close.  Edna does, however, have a sexual fling with a man that she hardly cares about and certainly isn't emotionally invested in.  The scene is not explicit in the least, but her actions certainly affect us as readers as we see the continuing development of Edna's character.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 12, 2011 at 11:16 AM (Answer #10)

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Another movie that simply suggests sexual relations is Splendor in the Grass with Warren Beatty and Nathalie Woods, who are a young couple in love at the time of the Great Depression.  But, Deanie's mother telling her not to "spoil herself," Bud finds another girl to satisfy him.  Nevertheless, Warren's character, Bud, yet loves Deanie, who goes insane when she understands what has happened.

After spending three years and six months in a mental institution, Deanie returns home to learn that Bub has become a farmer and married an Italian girl from his college days.  Then, they both realize that they must continue their lives.

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billrogers249 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 16, 2011 at 2:42 AM (Answer #12)

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In reply to #1: Either decribed or not it is still not suggested to alloow kids to watch these kind of movie. The effect is, they will be havibng ideas at their young age which is not good. Bill Rogers Owner, Arlington Irrigation   
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sarahc418 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted September 20, 2011 at 6:19 AM (Answer #13)

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As litteacher8 suggested, many Victorian novels do not speak out right about sex as it was considered inappropriate for people to read about sex in novels.

Thomas Hardy however deals primarily with a rape in his novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles and while he does not come out and say that Tess was raped. He alludes to this at the end of one of the chapters and then picks up the next section of the novel with the unmarried Tess as a pregnant young girl.

Throughout the novel, Hardy shows how Tess's life is ruined by this one event and how pure and innocent she is although society will not accept a ruined woman. The villain, rapist, consistently blames Tess for the sexual act as if she was asking for it. Hardy however illustrates that this "ruining" was not Tess's fault at all through her characterization and actions. Victorian society would not have allowed a woman to be blamelss in a case of premarital sex. Rape was not a vocabulary word to them.

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