Study Guide

Dirty Dancing Love

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Kellerman's doesn't seem like much of a love nest. Plenty of guests and staff are on the prowl, but it sure ain't love they're after. But you can't have a romantic movie without love, and Baby and Johnny come through for us by the film's conclusion. Baby's relationship with her father is also obviously very loving, and she's quick to express it to him. It's what gets them through the crisis about Johnny.

Baby's love for Johnny is pretty transgressive. He's poor and uneducated, he's from a different social class, and he's in a profession that most of her family thinks is questionable. Cross-class love is a pretty popular theme in film and fiction: think Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett; Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester; Rose and Jack. The point is always that love transcends all kinds of boundaries.

You could reasonably argue that Baby's relationship with Johnny isn't love at all, just a summer infatuation that's very appealing because it's transgressive. But we'll give our happy couple the benefit of the doubt and say there's something authentic there. They both make serious sacrifices for each other and stand up to people in their life because of their love.

We'd have to wait for the sequel to find out if this love endures. Maybe Baby gets a nose job and Johnny loses respect for her. Unfortunately, there can't be a sequel. There will never be another Patrick Swayze.

Questions About Love

  1. What makes Baby fall in love with Johnny? What makes Johnny love Baby? How do they express their love?
  2. How does Baby's love for her father (and vice versa) grow and change during the film?
  3. Why does Penny try to tell Johnny not to associate with Baby? Does she think Baby doesn't love him? Or is does she worry about what Johnny will do if he falls in love with her?
  4. Is Baby's love real? Is she just infatuated by someone new, gorgeous, and different?

Chew on This

Love in Dirty Dancing is shown through dancing and expression more than words.

The two people who express their love in words are Baby and her Dad. Father/Daughter Dance Night must have been discontinued at Kellerman's.

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