Find a novel/movie where sex is suggested, not described. How is it suggested? How does it affect theme or characterization?
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In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald establishes the sexual relationship between Gatsby and Daisy without detailing their encounters. The two became lovers when they first met in Louisville where Gatsby was stationed before going overseas to World War I. Fitzgerald alludes to their relationship in this passage:
. . . [Gatsby] was at present a penniless young man without a past, and at any moment the invisible cloak of his uniform might slip from his shoulders. So he made the most of his time. He took what he could get, ravenously and unscrupulously--eventually he took Daisy one still October night, took her because he had no real right to touch her hand.
Gatsby, much to his surprise, realized that "it didn't turn out as he had imagined." He fell in love with Daisy: "He felt married to her, that was all."
When Daisy and Gatsby reunite in West Egg five years later, Fitzgerald suggests subtly that they resumed their sexual relationship. Gatsby had thrown many huge parties, where people came to his mansion "by the hundreds," hoping that Daisy would wander in. After he and Daisy do meet again, however, the parties stop abruptly, Gatsby fires all his servants, and hires new people through Wolfsheim. Gatsby explained this change to Nick:
I wanted somebody who wouldn't gossip. Daisy comes over quite often--in the afternoons.
The physical relationship between Gatsby and Daisy survived a five-year separation, which led Gatsby to believe that his dream of their being together and wiping out the past would be realized. As Nick observed, "his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it." He never would, of course, or ever could, which suggests a major theme in the novel. A romantic dream stands no chance when pitted against the corruption of modern American life.
In the play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof the characters of Brick and Maggie are in a complete turmoil about sex. There are many veiled references about why Brick won't be intimate with Maggie, and this creates a problem because she 1)equates intimacy with sex, and 2)she would like to have a baby to garner favor with her in-laws. There are even veiled references to the relationship Brick has with his buddy, and whether there was a homosexual relationship between the two.
Since we're talking about films at the moment, I'd offer "A Place in the Sun." This movie version of Dreiser's "An American Tragedy" presents sex through its product ... a pregnancy. This turns out to be one of the key elements in the play because Alice (Shelley Winters) gets pregnant just as George (Montgomery Clift) starts to make "progress" with Angela (Elizabeth Taylor), and threatens to ruin George's "hopes" if he doesn't marry her. From there it works out pretty much like the novel ....
It's Dreiser at his purest ... a young man controlled by powers he "can't" control (lust/sex/money), and who is destroyed because of his inability to deal with any/all of them. It's easy to get, and I think you'd enjoy it, although it is an older movie and not up to today's "effects" standard ... although it's head and shoulders above many of them for plot.
In the movie "Stardust" the protagonist Tristan and the star, Yvaine, stay together at an inn at the end of their long journey. Sex is assumed by the audience as it shows her bathing and him standing on the other side of the screen speaking to her. Then, in the morning, she wakes up on one side of the bed, with the other side empty, looking for Tristan. She appears to be nude under the sheet. This affects characterization in that the relationship between the two is clearly on another level as he goes off on his own to break off a relationship with another girl the next morning. Yvaine, not realizing why he left, wanders off in despair, thinking he has used her and left her and finds herself at the hands of an enemy. Had they not spent that night together perhaps she would have been more alert and the ending would have been very different.
I am not sure if this applies, but the idea of sex being described and not fully articulated or realized could be present in the film American Beauty. Lester Burnham's fixation with teenager Angela is one where sex is implied, but never actualized. The idea of sex in this setting is one that represents flight, the ability to dream and allows Lester to "look closer" at his own life, setting in motion the events that allow him to understand his own sense of what should be as opposed to what is, but also brings him closer to his seemingly inevitable destruction.
In Death of a Salesman, the character of Willy Loman has what can be deemed an extramarital sexual relationship (though this is not discussed in the play) and was found out by his son, Biff. This incident is what set the wheels in motion towards the end of their relationship, affected the relationship between Biff and his mother (and vice versa), and is the anchoring point of the story. This one incident affected the characterization of Biff because his character was supposed to be successful and ample, and the sexual incident made him limited and unable to achieve again.
In Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman is shown to have an affair with someone even though he is married. This creates an impact on him and the future of his sons because Willy cannot let go of the fact of his affair, and he continuously pairs the stockings with his affair. This worsens the state of his mental being. On top of that, when Biff finds out about his father's affair, he ends up "giving up" on his life and refuses to go to summer school, which worsens his chances of going to his college and being who he could have been.
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