Monday, January 21, 2013


In the Election novel and the movie, Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon), an overachiever, had an affair with  her English teacher. (It's always the English teacher.) In the novel the reader is first introduced to the affair by Tracy, "ALL RIGHT, so I slept with my English teacher and ruined his marriage. Crucify me. Send me to bad girl prison..." In the movie, the viewer is introduced to the affair by the teacher. He ironically confided with the ethics teacher (Matthew Broderick), "Her pussy gets so wet you can't believe it." 

Interestingly, in the novel Tracy is a fifteen-year-old sophomore, but in the movie she is a sixteen-year-old junior. The movie is set in Omaha, Nebraska, so I'm surprised the writer didn't make her seventeen or set the movie in Nevada where the age-of-consent is sixteen. In the end, her age didn't matter in the book or movie, because the teacher was forced to resign, but surprisingly didn't go to jail. 

According to the novel the relationship began after the following conversation:

"The boys in this school are so immature," she complained. "They don't even know how to conduct a conversation."
"Oh?" said Jack. "So you'd prefer an older man?"
"As a matter of fact, I probably would"
"How old are you?"
"Me? Thirty-two."
"Thirty-two? That sounds about right."

However, just like in Solitary Man (2009), Tanner Hall (2009), Margaret (2011), etc, the age-discrepant relationship began to crumble when the teacher went from making Tracy feel, " and protected." before they "made out" all over the school and he took her virginity in his house to uncomfortable, because he became needy. For example, Tracy said in the novel that he, "...turn[ed] out to be as big a baby as any sixteen-year-old." And the relationship came to a halt when in the film Tracy's mother found a handmade card from her teacher (Fig. 1) and in the novel her mother found the following message on Tracy's A- The Scarlet Letter essay:

"Why won't you talk to me? Do you think love can be turned on and off like a faucet? Why don't you just get a gun and shoot me?

Fig. 1
The most telling quote from the movie has to be the above quote about how "wet" Tracy gets and from the novel the following:
"It was easier than you might imagine to forget she was fifteen. Spend enough time in high school, and you forget what fifteen means."

Election was written by Tom Perrotta and published in 1998. Tom graduated from Yale and during the time Election was published he taught writing at Harvard. The New York Times Book Review said about Election, "Election provides those gratifyingly exact and telling portraits of the kids themselves. Solid plotting..." Time Out New York praised, "Captures the texture of high-school life in a refreshingly unromantic manner."

Election (1999) Trailer

Movie Poster
Book Cover

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