Just as boys after fifteen years of being hustled from institutional pillar to institutional post no longer know how to make up their own games outdoors, just as girls after fifteen years of the same no longer know how to organize a dance or a social, so now our young people not only refrain from dating and courting—they do not know how to do it. In 1960—back when Wally Cleaver was wearing a jacket and tie to join other boys and girls at a party, for playing records and eating ice cream and dancing—in that already souring time, almost three out of four Americans aged 24 were married (72%). We are not talking about people who are dating during all those years; they aren’t. Second, it delays, perhaps derails for good, the time when young people will set down roots and integrate themselves into the great passage of the generations.Some of them are bed-hopping; some are shacking up; some are simply alone. In a culture where marriage is really treasured, that time is the supreme aim of most people’s lives.
Still, in adapting the book for film, some changes had to be made. The crucial plot points and the structure of the book remain.They need not rely upon the ministrations of a secular and soul-withering state.They themselves make a society within the larger society.But we need something else too, something more human and more fundamental.We need desperately to reintroduce young men and young women to the delightfulness of the opposite sex. In our swamp of miserable statistics, let me introduce another that is often overlooked. First, it is evidence of deep and widespread loneliness.And while the book release party for the wedding story is depicted in both versions—as are the invasive questions Amy answers about her own singledom from attendees—in the novel, this event occurs the night before she runs into Nick, and leaves her devastated about her marriage prospects.