When it comes to adaptions, there are many routes one can take. Everyone who reads a story, takes something different out of it. There are multiple perspectives a reader can have on a tale, much like a writer can present multiple perspectives to the audience. The interesting part about Picoult’s books, is that there is never just one narrator. There are multiple narrators. In My Sister’s Keeper, we have around seven narrators. Their lives are intertwined, but each has a unique voice. This allows readers to gain insight into each of the character’s minds. Seger mentions a narrator can move in and out of a character’s life, even going inside a character’s head, to let the reader know what he or she is feeling or thinking. However, films have trouble doing this. Films gives us an objective observer of actions. She writes: “Film doesn’t give us an interior look at a character. A novel does” (20).
However, it is harder to convey different points of view in film. Seger writes: “A film, like a novel, also presents a point of view, but to determine whose point of view the screenwriter asks different questions than the novelist. The screenwriter asks, ‘to what extent do I focus only on one character’s world, thereby only showing scenes that contain that particular character'” (26)? The same issues are also present in a blox – what points of view should I focus on when it comes to adapting the literary work to something visual? What elements of the narrative should I include? There are so many different story lines coexisting, how can I separate these and yet show their interconnectedness?
I think, it has to do with the common thread connecting them all – Kate. Here we have what Seger would call our “story arc” – Kate’s illness. Because of this illness, we have a story. Seger considers the story arc the story spine. She writes: “All the events within the story arc are connected to the objective and bring us closer to the climax” (91). And because of this one story, we have multiple stories stemming off of it. It is difficult to separate the story lines, but maybe that is the point. Maybe, what is more important, is that these stories can’t really be disconnected. Instead, in order to adapt, we must focus on how they are connected and why and what this means. In this case, the conflict is that Anna wants to be emancipated from this connection, and yet finds it difficult to do so. The family cannot help but feel the actions and consequences of everyone else. In order to adapt, this idea of interconnectedness, multiples points of view and perspectives, must be captured.
I used to not believe people when they said we live in a small world. For me, it always seemed frighteningly large. When I was younger, my backyard was enough of an adventure. There was the tool shed in the corner, the pool, the plethora of plants and flowers. There was also this little wooden square thing attached to our house I would like to climb on top of and look over the fence to spy on the neighbors. It was a big world, my backyard. When I added the front yard and then the whole neighborhood to it, the world just seemed to grow.
But then one day, I realized that everything is relative. It is all about perspective. To little me, everything and everyone seemed giant. Mom and dad were huge – and if I wanted to see the world better, I could ask them to hold me in their arms so I could see over people’s heads or even just out the window. I learned to jump on the kitchen counter to reach the cups. Mom always used to yell at me when there were scuff marks on the counter after. However, I grew up and with that, I got taller and wiser and probably a bit more cynical. I could see out the window, and sometimes I saw things I didn’t want to see, maybe shouldn’t have seen. But I did.
And then one day, I went to college, and I realized that even on a huge campus like the University of Florida, I will run into multiple people I know on any given day. The campus is not so large. The world is not so large. I ran into people I knew in Italy and Costa Rica and people were shocked when I told them this. I was shocked when I encountered these situations. But, now, I think I can just chalk it up to the fact that the world is much smaller than it seems. And, this, I believe is due to our interconnectedness. We all live in the same world, and, therefore, are bond to have connections. Life is all about connections.
Calvino describes the concept of multiplicity as a web. We are all a part of this web, some of our lines overlapping, some just barely touching, some lines we may never be aware of now, maybe ever. And some we could not live without being close to. These are the people who really matter. However, this idea of a web, makes the idea of connectedness or multiplicity inevitable. With a web, you are literally stuck in the web. It is hard to get out of the web. With multiplicity, it is hard not to encounter it, engage in it, experience it. Multiplicity exists. Bottom line.
In My Sister’s Keeper, we have a tale told from multiple perspectives – mother, father, lawyer, guardian ad litem, sister, brother, other sister. The book is constantly switching perspectives. However, the interesting thing Jodi Picoult is doing, is she is telling the same tale from multiple viewpoints. Readers get the same story, but in many different ways. Each character has a unique voice and story to tell, but these stories and these voices are still connected to all the others. Here is where the notion of being an individual and yet being a part of something so much bigger, comes into play. Human beings may have autonomous thoughts, but they are not autonomous, because they are, inevitably, connected to others.
An interesting concept in this book, is the notion that one can’t define oneself without defining oneself in relation to others. Anna defines herself in terms of Kate. One can go so far to say, that Anna only exists because of Kate. Therefore, she can never be seen as a single entity, because she is so closely intertwined with another. They share the same genetic information and Kate depends on Anna to live. Therefore, Kate is just as connected to Anna, as Anna is to Kate. Both have this sort of symbiotic relationship.
Meanwhile, the idea of a sort of domino effect can be seen in this storyline. When one person starts to fall, it has an effect on everyone. When one person sets something into motion, it causes everyone’s world to collapse. When Kate gets cancer, the whole family’s world is affected. When Anna decides to go to court, the impact is felt by all the characters in the novel. Here the idea of multiplicity is ever-present: one person’s actions will most definitely effect many other people. The lives of these characters are so intertwined, that something felt by one of them, will eventually touch all of them.
Another idea of multiplicity in this story, is the idea that people will see what they want to see. The mother sees Kate as being sick and, therefore, the number one priority. As a result, Anna feels invisible. She feels like she is not important, that what she has to say does not matter. Here is the idea that how much attention one chooses to apply to someone, will be felt by everyone. If one spends more attention on one of their daughters, the other, will most definitely feel this imbalance.
The idea of multiplicity implies that no action will go unnoticed. And someone who feels like his or her actions are going unnoticed, will go to great lengths to make them noticed. People have this need to feel connected, to feel like they matter. And this novel is about asserting one’s connections to others, and yet choosing when to speak and when not to. It is about choice – having the choose to interact with others, having the choice to be connected, and yet realizing that, inevitably, it isn’t really a choice. It is life. We are connected, whether we want to be or not.