Study Guide

Sixteen Candles Coming of Age

Coming of Age

We all do it…whether we want to or not. Sometime between the ages of twelve and twenty-nine we all look around, horrified, and realize: "Oops. I've grown up."

And certain milestones underline the whole growing-up process. You get to drink at age twenty-one. You get to vote at age eighteen. You get to rent a car (with fewer fees!) at age twenty-five.

But very few milestones are as celebrated for girls (in the American imagination, at least) as the sweet sixteen. And Sixteen Candles is all about how a sweet sixteen birthday can go terribly wrong…but how that "going terribly wrong" part might actually aid in coming-of-age.

Questions About Coming of Age

  1. How would things be different if Sam's parents had thrown her a party? Would she trade this day for a party instead if she could?
  2. How would this movie be different if Sam were a guy? Do guys place the same emphasis on the sixteenth birthday?
  3. Did you have a sweet sixteen party? Or a quinceanera? How did it compare to Sam's memorable day?

Chew on This

Sam's able to get what she wants without needing to go through any specific coming of age ritual. She makes her sixteenth birthday a unique one.

Sam's entire life would be better if her parents had only remembered her birthday in the first place.

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