- Alternate Character Interpretation:
- It's not hard to see Stanley as a product of her environment. Due to the family once being upper class, she's been raised with that mindset rather than having been taught how to be a productive member of society. As she's relied on Uncle William for handouts all her life, she simply doesn't realise that spending excessive amounts is going to put Peter under pressure. That's not to mention the implication that Uncle William could have been grooming her, as he propositions her towards the end.
- Why does Roy keep helping Stanley after all she's done? Is it out of sisterly love, in spite of how awful she's been? Is she under pressure from her mother, who blatantly favours Stanley? Is it some kind of sisterly Stockholm Syndrome? Does she feel sorry for Stanley?
- Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Virtually every character in the book is screwed up in some way. Stanley is an utterly horrible manipulator who uses everyone she meets, Roy is a doormat who lets herself be used, Lavinia is a hypochondriac who worries everyone, Asa is bitter about his fall from grace, Uncle William is well....Uncle William, Peter is a cheater who quickly turns to the bottle, and Charles is an extreme Dogged Nice Guy. Virtually the only good character is Parry, and he of course gets royally screwed over. The film is a little better, where Roy is less of a doormat, but it's still a very bleak story.
- Fair for Its Day: Despite the 'white saviour' elements being present, the film was notable for really showing race relations as they actually were on the big screen. Parry is an actual character, as opposed to a Living Prop, and Bette Davis herself insisted on making him seem like a real person instead of resulting to Uncle Tomfoolery. His mother Minerva also functions as a character, rather than just a typical maid with a couple of lines. Bonus points for being played by Hattie McDaniel, the original Mammy - who herself was an example of this trope.
- Fetish Retardant: Invoked by Bette Davis, who rebuffed the studio's efforts to make Stanley more attractive.
- Fridge Horror: Uncle William's treatment of Stanley reads a lot like child grooming.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: Watching Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte with Olivia de Havilland as the evil sibling (well, cousin in this case) and Bette Davis as the good one gives the impression that Roy got her revenge on Stanley in the end.
- Jerkass Woobie: Stanley in some areas, when you consider that she does admittedly go through the trauma of coming home to find her husband dead and if you realise that her excessive spending is really just her way of trying to feel some kind of happiness. The fact that she stole her sister's husband and manipulates everyone at every turn prevents her from being fully sympathetic though.
- Narm: There's lots of it to be had with the bizarre naming convention of the two daughters. It's never explained and doesn't seem to serve any purpose.
- "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: An evil white woman sending a poor innocent black man to prison just to cover up her own wicked deeds? Scandalously shocking to a 1940s audience. The film was even banned in some places because it dealt with racism
- Slow-Paced Beginning: The early parts of the book are very internalised, with various characters questioning their purposes in life. The same with the film - where an hour of Melodrama builds to the dramatic third act where Stanley frames Parry for her crimes.
- Values Dissonance:
- The Incest Subtext between Stanley and Uncle William is a holdover from the times when many people in the south would marry their own cousins.
- There's a huge element of White Man's Burden between Roy and Parry, that's simply reflective of the values of the day.
- The bleakness of the story hasn't aged well. It was reflective of the attitudes during the Great Depression; that life couldn't get better and that everywhere was doomed to poverty - especially with the threat of World War II looming ahead.
- Values Resonance: While some aspects of the story haven't aged well, the racial dynamics are very reasonant with a modern audience. Notably a white woman's word trumping a black man's, and black people being scapegoats for crimes are oddly reminiscent of modern stories about police brutality.
YMMV / In This Our Life