SGST301 Lecture 12: Desert Hearts Notes
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Department
Sexualities and Gender Studies
Course
SGST301
Professor
Warner Mary Ruth
Semester
Spring

Description
Desert Hearts Notes • Takes place in Reno, NV in 1959 • Opens with a train going slowly down the tracks and people get off • Vivian Bell is a professor who got divorced after 12 years and moved to Reno (for 6 weeks to get a divorce, since NV was one of the only places you could get divorced without having to place blame/admit fault) o Described her marriage and relationship as them being a “professional couple” o Always lived in the city and doesn’t know what to do with open space ▪ Francis (who picked Vivian up from the train) starts talking to another driver as they drive down the road, Francis going forward and the other driver going backwards in the other lane to keep up with Francis • This driver is Cay ▪ Says things are a “little shaky right now” ▪ Vivian is staying with Francis and her son Walter in the motel-like house they live in • Locker room with two women – Silver and Cay – they kiss and Silver announces her engagement to Joe o Cay and Silver are waitresses at the casino • Francis cares about Cay, but isn’t her mother o Loved Cay’s dad? Lived with him for 10 years but wasn’t married – he was married to someone else? • Tension between Vivian and Lucille (one of the motel’s tenants) o Vivian didn’t socialize for a few days and Lucille judged her for it • Cay is a lesbian, which Vivian discovers when she goes to drop off mail and sees a naked woman in her house o Vivian seems uncomfortable being around Cay and her “friend” – Gwen? o Gwen is making fun of Vivian for being educated – Vivian is kind of stuck up • Vivian is 35 – “leaving a decent marriage to see if she can find a good one” o Martin is the ex-husband o Concerned she may spend the rest of her life alone • Joyce gets a job at the casino with Cay and Silver • Darrell (the owner of the casino) professes his love to Cay o She reminds him that she’s already told him why she doesn’t feel the same ▪ He is obviously upset • Vivian and Cay laugh together after a run-in in the kitchen in the middle of the night • Francis cries to Cay that everything is falling apart • Cay gets Vivian to ride horses with her • While looking at horses, Vivian finally takes off her wedding band • Cay is in the bath with Silver and says, “I think I may have found someone who counts” and talks about Vivian o Cay is 10 years younger than Vivian o Silver’s fiancée (Joe) walks in and this situation is normal to him? • Montage of Vivian and Cay doing things together – watching a movie, shopping • Silver, Cay, and Vivian in the casino gambling and talking o Darrell meets Vivian, and Cay obviously feels awkward • Lucille warns Vivian to “be careful” with Cay because she’s queer • People at the casino talk Vivian into gambling when she doesn’t know how • Cay gets upset when Vivian says she’s not going to a party and storms off o Vivian leaves the table, and Walter follows her ▪ They walk and talk, holding hands ▪ He offers to escort her to the party o The party is Silver and Joe’s engagement party • Vivian goes to the party with Walter (and Cay is with them) o Cay stares at Vivian while Silver sings a song about love
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