Study Guide

The Birds Love

Love

MELANIE: Just what is it you're looking for, sir?

MITCH: Lovebirds.

MELANIE: Lovebirds, sir?

MITCH: Yes. I understand there are different varieties. Is that true?

MELANIE: Oh, yes, there are.

MITCH: Well, uh, these are for my sister, for her birthday, see, and uh, as she's only gonna be 11, I, I wouldn't want a pair of birds that were ... too demonstrative.

MELANIE: I understand completely.

MITCH: At the same time, I wouldn't want them to be too aloof, either.

MELANIE: No, of course not.

MITCH: Do you happen to have a pair of birds that are ... just friendly?

Here's a great example of talking about sex while not talking about sex. This opening scene with the flirtation and building of sexual tension is what starts the plot in motion.

ANNIE: Oh, pretty. What are they?

MELANIE: Lovebirds.

ANNIE: I see. Good luck, Miss Daniels.

Lydia says almost the same thing"Oh, I see"when she learns that the birds Melanie brought to Bodega Bay are lovebirds. Both Annie and Lydia take the lovebirds as a sign or symbol of attraction. Of course, Melanie isn't quite ready to admit she's in love or lust yet. So, the lovebirds continue to be a way for everybody to talk about love in an indirect way.

MITCH: What about the letter you wrote me, is that a lie, too?

MELANIE: No, I wrote the letter.

MITCH: Well, what did it say?

MELANIE: It said, "Dear Mr. Brenner, I think you need these lovebirds, after all. They may help your personality."

MITCH: But you tore it up?

MELANIE: Yes.

MITCH: Why?

MELANIE: Because it seemed stupid and foolish.

Writing a letter and then tearing it upa neutral observer might diagnose that as a crush. Of course, Melanie already tracked this random guy down and drove miles and miles to see him, so you probably already figured out she was pretty interested.

ANNIE: Well, you needn't worry. It's been over and done with a long time ago.

MELANIE: Annie, there's nothing between Mr. Brenner and me.

ANNIE: Isn't there? Well, maybe there isn't. Maybe there's never been anything between Mitch and any girl.

Annie makes Mitch out to be a lot more interesting than he seems to be from what the viewer can tell. In most respects, Mitch seems to be a fairly boring heroic romantic lead. But, Annie suggests that Mitch attracts loads of women but never has any intention of doing anything about it. He sure attracted Annie. She moved to Bodega Bay after they broke up just to keep some kind of relationship with him. Which is the real Mitch? And, does it matter anyway, or should you just watch the bird attacks?

MITCH: You need a mother's care, my child.

MELANIE: Not my mother's.

MITCH: Oh, I'm sorry.

MELANIE: What have you got to be sorry about? My mother? Don't waste your time. She ditched us when I was 11 and ran off with some hotel man in the east. You know what a mother's love is.

MITCH: Yes, I do.

MELANIE: You mean it's better to be ditched?

MITCH: No, I think it's better to be loved. Don't you ever see her?

MELANIE: I don't know where she is.

Evan Hunter hated this bit of dialogue, but Hitch wanted to keep it. Poor Melanie was never loved, which is why she's irresponsible and needy. Anyway, Melanie's distant relationship with her mom contrasts with Mitch's overly close relationship with his mother. Either way, these distorted relationships are made to appear to be linked to the bird attacks somehow, although this is one of Hitchcock's misdirections.

LYDIA: Mitch is important to me. I want to like whatever girl he chooses ... Well, I don't think it's going to matter very much to anyone but me ... Mitch has always done exactly what he wanted to do. But, you see, I don't want to be left alone. I don't think I could bear to be left alone. Oh, forgive me ... This business with the birds has upset me. I don't know what I'd do if Mitch weren't here ... I wish I was stronger.

Lydia is terrified that Mitch will leave her. As a result, Annie suggests, she keeps Mitch from having any romantic relationships. Some critics say the birds are a manifestation of Lydia's clinginess; they attack to prevent Mitch from finding love. If that's the case, Lydia's wish that she were "stronger" has come true via the killer birds. Lydia can finally come to accept Melanie when she's nothing but a traumatized zombie.

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