A writer who creates an exact image or mood or storyline makes it both harder and easier for adaptation. It is easier in the sense that there is something precise and tangible to work with. However, due to the exactness of this created world, one also runs the risk of not capturing it precisely and to the degree that the author did. There is more to risk when something is that exact. However, because Jodi Picoult does such a great job at really sculpting this world, she does provide the adapter with a gripping point, something to hold onto and work with.
Seger talks about exploring the theme when it comes to adaptation. This seems highly relevant when it comes to a discussion on exactitude, because part of being exact, is being able to create a precise theme. Seger talks about how novels and plays tend to be more theme-oriented than films. Films tend to be more story oriented. Translating the theme from one medium to another is not always an easy matter. However, Seger says that “one central theme will come to the forefront” (139). She also writes that “all of the great novels, however, and most of the good ones, are not just telling a story but are pursuing an idea” (14). The theme is just as important as the plot, if not more important.
When it comes to finding the theme, Seger mentions five things one must look for:
1. Narration of the writer
2. The dialogue
3. Story choices that the writer has made
4. Choices that the character makes
5. Images used in description that can be translated into cinematic images
Therefore, when it came to pondering how I might adapt the exact theme present in My Sister’s Keeper, I focused on those issues. It is interesting to note that these five things mentioned above all imply a sort of exactness. Here is this idea of trying to mimic a sort of preciseness fostered by the writer. It is about pinpointing exactly what is needed to convey these same ideas via images. What themes are most integral to the storyline? What exactly must be included to capture this, and what, maybe, can be left out of the adaptation?
For me, it came down to the mood that Picoult captured in this novel. I felt like the mood was highly tied to the theme. Her novel is very much one giant question. The story is a novel about how easy it is for a world to shatter, how confusing the aftermath can be, how certain choices led to particular outcomes, but how fuzzy life can appear. The theme has to do with trying to contain something that is, by definition, difficult to explain or define or understand. Kate has cancer. There is no reason why she got cancer. It does not make sense. However, Anna was born to save Kate. There was a precise purpose here. But, at some point, this purpose becomes more gray, and it is challenged. What once seemed completely black and white, right or wrong, is no longer as easy to define. The exact central theme here has to do with morality.Therefore, I tried to capture this when it came to adapting this work.
The use of transparency in this E-lit further emphasizes the idea of visibility. Starting with the “word tree”, this fades over time, and we have the image of letters falling like leaves. However, once we click on those leaves, they, too fade, and then we once again have the image of a tree, but now it is planted in a ground of words. Once we click on this image, though, we are once again back to the falling leaves. There is this idea that words, just like images, fade over time – their visibility does not last. However, what does last is our ability to use our imagination and how we choose to remember something, how we wish to change it.
Transparency here allows us to create our own images and words instead of just relying on the ones we are given. The idea of transparency also implies a sort of quickness – that images or words cannot last long, that they can soon fade. If this is the case, then it is all that more important to continue to make them visible, to fight for them to stay. Letters can form words, just like leaves can form trees – but both are transparent in the sense that they can be broken up into smaller units. They do not hold permanent weight. Therefore, it is up to audience to create this weight, this visibility. Imagination and visibility are transparent – they are subject to manipulation, they can be sculpted differently depending on the person, they are not tangible and long-lasting. However, what is long-lasting is the idea that we always have the power to imagine, even if the word or the image changes.