Childhood Secrets

         The looks, the smiles and the language, can only be understood by the ones who created it. As I watched Jack Clayton's 1961 movie version of Henry James's 1898 The Turn of the Screw, The Innocents, I saw how the children, Flora and Miles (Pamela Franklin and Martin Stephens) communicated to each other without anyone else even knowing it. I too as a child, created my own language and motions with my friends so we could talk back and forth and keep our little secrets to our selves.

         All boys and girls have their secrets. These secrets seem to be so important to them and mean so much. In the case of the children in The Turn of the Screw and The Innocents, their secret was definitely a big one. The children knew that they were being watched over by the ghosts of the former valet, Peter Quint (Peter Wyngarde) and governess, Miss Jessel (Clytie Jessop). These characters seemed to have control over the children's bodies and minds. I think that it was beneficial that the boy and girl both had each other to talk too and share their secrets with. I think that it kept them somewhat sane. Their having this in common seemed to bring the children closer together. They did not discuss this out loud in front of others, especially the governess, named Miss Giddens in the movie (Deborah Kerr) and the housekeeper, Mrs. Grose (Megs Jenkins); but instead the children had their own looks, smiles and language they both could understand, while all the others were left in the dark even though it would take place right in front of them.

         Like the children in this movie, I too had a language of my own. My closest friends and I would have our own girly secrets that nowadays mean nothing but they were the "biggest" and "bestest" secrets in our minds. Having this language it enabled us to be able to discuss things in front of other friends and even our parents. I no longer use the language, but I still do have ways of communicating with my friends. I think that many people are able to laugh secretly about things by having their own "inside jokes" with their friends, while not letting it out to others around them.

         Our secrets as children may not be as crazy and as scary as those of Flora and Miles in the movie, but ours did seem to be just as important to us. We also seemed to handle them in the same manner by keeping them to ourselves and only discussing them in our own language. It definitely makes one feel in control when one has one's own means of communication. In many cases these secrets are just fun and games, but in the case of these children it may have been better to discuss this in plain English. But, as you know, children will be children.

Courtney Wenande

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