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The Film My Girl Essay

1966 words - 8 pages

The 1991 movie My Girl tells the story of 11-year-old Vada Sultenfuss who, having lost her mother at birth , lives with her dementia-ridden grandmother and her job-oriented father in the funeral parlour that he owns and operates. The story follows Vada, an extreme hypochondriac who has many strange misconceptions about death, through a variety of life-changing experiences, including the engagement of her father and the devastating loss of her best friend, Thomas Jay. Through these experiences, the audience witnesses Vada’s social, emotional, and intellectual growth, as well as her changing views of death. ...view middle of the document...

Her father’s lack of attention has also likely influences Vada’s misconceptions about death; his response to Vada’s question about whether a particularly small casket is for a child is “no”, that it is simply for short people. Furthermore, when
Vada feigns dying one night at dinner, her father’s reaction is to ignore her rather than talk to her about what the real issue is. Behavior such as this might be viewed as both a lack of understanding about death as well as an attempt to get attention that is so obviously absent. Vada’s father’s lack of attention to his daughter’s needs is similarly illustrated in the fact that when Vada starts her period, she believes she is haemorrhaging; he has not adequately educated her on the normal bodily changes that are unrelated to death, nor on the subject of death itself.
A related important event in this movie is the quick engagement of Vada’s father. Vada reacts to this news negatively, recruiting Thomas Jay to run away with her, and eventually returning to find that no one has even noticed her absence which only frustrates her further. Vada, who has never seen her father as a particularly happy person, suddenly sees a change in his demeanor when he meets and starts dating Shelly; for Vada, this translates to her inability to make her father happy, that she is unneeded, and that she was not good enough on her own. Her feeling of being replaced is illustrated when, upon the news of the engagement, Vada drops the goldfish she has just won, but refuses to get a new one: “Don’t worry, I won’t get another fish”. Although Vada’s attitude toward Shelly becomes hostile, Shelly ultimately serves a major role in Vada’s emotional and intellectual development, recognizing Vada’s misconceptions about death and her need for parental warmth and attention.
Finally, the most integral element of this film is Vada’s relationship with her best friend, Thomas Jay, which ends with his surprising and untimely death. Thomas, who dies from a massive amount of bee stings while trying to find Vada’s lost mood ring,
understands and accepts Vada while others do not and they are extremely close because of this, making his death very hard on Vada. Once again, Vada visit’s the doctor’s office, this time panicked and complaining that she cannot breath, the pain from the bee stings is too much. This might be interpreted as externalizing the internal emotional pain she feels because she does not know how to express it differently. At the funeral, it is clear that Vada is not yet willing to accept Thomas’s death, as she speaks to him as if he is still alive. ...

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