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My son, Sebastian and I constructed our days. Each day we would carve each day like a piece of sculpture, leaving behind us a trail of days like a gallery of sculpture until suddenly, last summer.
Suddenly, Last Summer was originally a 1958 one act play written by Tennessee Williams. The play is very simple in its structure. It consists of two monologues, one by Catharine and the other by her aunt Violet, concerning the death of Sebastian during the passed summer.
In 1959, it was made into a film directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and starring Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn and Montgomery Clift. The movie expands the story and plot quite a bit. Dr. John Cukrowicz (Clift) is a brain surgeon who specializes in lobotomies and has been recently hired at the State hospital to perform his procedures on patients. However, because the equipment and operating conditions are very poor, he is having a difficult time fulfilling his duties. A wealthy widow named Violet Venable (Hepburn) offers to fund the hospital so that it can build a new wing. But, there is one condition: he must perform a lobotomy on her niece Catherine Holly (Taylor).
Catherine is currently in a mental hospital after returning from a disastrous trip in Europe with her cousin Sebastian. Their trip in the summer had ended rather badly with the death of Sebastian. Catherine, who is suffering from dementia, cannot remember exactly how he died. But, she knows a dark secret about him that Violet wants to keep hidden away.
Tropes used in Suddenly Last Summer:
- Adaptation Expansion
- Alliterative Name: Violet Venable.
- Bowdlerize: The movie screenplay was carefully scrubbed of any overt mention of homosexuality or cannibalism.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Violet. She seems to be living in a rather idealized world view of her and Sebastian when he was alive. She later regresses into that world after The Reveal. She even goes on to call Dr. Cukrowicz "Sebastian" after she remarked how similar they looked earlier.
- Depraved Homosexual: Sebastian. His trips every summer are not just writing for poetry. He uses his mother, later Catherine, as bait to attract local boys and young men so that they will have sex with him.
- I Am a Humanitarian: Sebastian is killed being beaten and eaten by a large crowd of poor island boys.
- Interrupted Suicide: Catherine's suicide attempt at the hospital after her meeting with Violet.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Violet.
- Posthumous Character: Sebastian.
- Rape as Drama: Implied as to what happen to Catherine at the Dueling Oaks.
- Rich Bitch: Violet.
- Parental Incest: Hinted that Violet's love for Sebastian was more than familial.
- Title Drop
- Third Person Person: After the traumatic experience, Catherine started writing her diary in the third person.
- Truth Serums: Dr. Cukrowicz uses one on Catherine so she remembers what happened to Sebastian.
- Vapor Wear: The infamous white swimsuit that Catherine is forced by Sebastian to wear.