Monday, January 21, 2013

ELECTION: A "Wet" Student's Affair With Her High School Teacher

In Election, Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) had an affair with Mr. Dave Novotny, her high school 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 film, the viewer is introduced to the affair by the math 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, we're surprised the writer(s) 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, because, in the book and the movie, Mr. Novotny was forced to resign, but surprisingly, he 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"

Subsequently, the nymphet and her teacher "made out" all over (high) school before he took her virginity - in his house. 

However, just like in Solitary Man (2009), Tanner Hall (2009), Margaret (2011), the age-discrepant relationship began to crumble when Mr. Novotny became needy after making his  student feel "safe and protected." For example, Tracy said in the novel that her teacher, "[...] turn[ed] out to be as big a baby as any sixteen-year-old." 

The relationship came to a complete halt when, in the film, Tracy's mother found a handmade card from Mr. Novotny (Fig. 1) and when, 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 film has to be the quote about how "wet" Tracy gets and the most telling quote from the novel has to be, "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 who graduated from Yale and taught writing at Harvard

The New York Times Book Review opined, "Election provides those gratifyingly exact and telling portraits of the kids themselves. Solid plotting..." And Time Out New York praised, "Captures the texture of high-school life in a refreshingly unromantic manner."

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