My Girl

1938 Words Mar 23rd, 2008 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. One of the most compelling elements of this film is Vada’s obsession with death and disease, and her apparent misunderstanding of …show more content…
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. It is obvious that the movie My Girl illustrates several aspects of the cognitive and emotional development of children’s understanding of death. Although Vada seems to have a fairly clear understanding of the inevitability and unpredictability of death, she has some difficulty with its all-inclusiveness in that, although she is quite preoccupied with her own death, with her constant visits to the doctor reporting various fatal diseases, she does not seem to be concerned about the possible death of those close to her. This is consistent with the finding that “most children understand their own personal mortality before they understand that all people die” (p. 17, Corr & Corr, 1996). This is so despite her extensive experience with death while living in a funeral parlour. Another facet of death that Vada has clear misunderstandings about is that of nonfunctionality. For example, when Vada’s basketball falls into the basement where corpses are kept for funeral preparations and the door is closed behind her, she panics, and pounds on the door for someone to help her, clearly thinking the corpse might come and “get” her. Similarly, as previously mentioned, at Thomas Jay’s funeral, Vada speaks to him as if he has the qualities of a living person, asking him if he wants to go tree-
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