So I've been thinking about Tuck Everlasting. It's one of my favourite books and one of my favourite movies, and yet the two have some big differences and I wanted to...discuss them out of my system. With myself, in a blog post, because why not?
So yes. This is going to be a discussion/compare-and-contrast of the book and movie. And it will contain spoilers for each, so beware.
The biggest difference between the two is Winnie. In the book, she is a child. In the movie, she's a teenager. And that...it vastly changes the dynamics between the main characters. They obviously aged her up to turn it into a love story, which is fine but I think it's interesting the way that changed the story.
I think I love both versions because, in spite of their differences, they both have the same overall message:
That message...it's very much at the heart of both stories and I love both for that.
They made Winnie older so that her and Jesse could be in a romantic relationship and the more I think about it, the more I think that actually works in favour of the overall message -- even more so than the way the book does it.
When you're in your teens and you're in love for the first time, it feels like this big huge feeling that your heart can't even contain – like you could burst from the brightness and intensity of it. And you're so convinced that you'll feel that way forever...and it's real, what you're feeling is real, but it doesn't factor into the equation that you're going to get older. That you're going to grow and change as a person and your feelings will probably change too and the person that you and the person you love become might not be as compatible as the people you used to be.
Those thoughts – they don't penetrate through the haze of it all, you're thoroughly lost in love with this person that you can't imagine a day where you won't feel that way for them or when you'd want something different.
And Winnie, she's feeling that. That big first love and she's young enough to think that it'll be forever...young enough to want it to be. To not want the kind of relationship she'd have if she met someone when she was older. And that feeling of first love, it's thoroughly tangled up with the feeling of freedom too.
Winnie's life has been so sheltered and restricted and she feels so trapped by it...and then along comes Jesse and the Tucks and not only does she find love, but she is allowed to just be who she wants to be for the first time. She can be messy and loud and free, she doesn't have to worry about rules and manners and expectations. And that – it's intoxicating. She loves it, loves the Tucks -- loves them even more for introducing her to that way of being.
So the fact that she has all of that, that she knows the life she can have, and that she has love for that life and those people...and still chooses to grow old and die, it makes her choice even more significant. She wants that life with them, but she just wants to live more -- she's not blind to what she's giving up.
While book Winnie...she's a child. She loves the Tucks, she has fun while she's with them and they're these magical people in her eyes. But still, she's just a child. She's afraid to die, yes...as most people are if they think on it too much, but when she makes the choice to grow old instead of living forever it isn't the same as it is with movie Winnie. She's not giving up her first love and the future she could've had with him, because she's never experienced that.
There's suggestion that she could have that in the book... Jesse does want her to drink from the spring and he wants her to wait a few years so that she'll be the same age as him, but she isn't in love with him like movie Winnie was and Jesse wasn't in love with her either.
That's another big change: Jesse. Changing Winnie's age, and changing the dynamics of their relationship, it does change Jesse quite a bit too.
In the movie, Jesse has a thirst for life. He's been given forever and he doesn't intend to waste a second of it. Time means nothing to him, for all he knows it's infinite, but he still views it as precious. He wants to rise with the dawn and explore the world and climb mountains and swim in waterfalls and see and experience the world as it changes.
In contrast, Miles is just existing (although his book counterpart isn't quite so guarded or cold). He's perpetually grieving and he wants nothing more than for it all to be over. And Mae and Tuck? They're content, they might choose for things to be different if they could but they've accepted the hand they've been dealt and find happiness in the simple things – in just being together, it's a quiet sort of happiness.
Movie Jesse... When he asks Winnie to drink from the spring, it is about her specifically. He loves her. He wants her. He wants to spend forever with her by his side.
But book Jesse? While he hoped that maybe when Winnie is older she could be a person he could love and explore the world with, it wasn't specifically about Winnie. He cared for her, yes, he cared for her in a way that was specifically about her but it wasn't romantic. And they didn't know each other that well (I think she's only with them a few days in the book while in the movie it's a few weeks). When he pictured her drinking from the spring and them getting married someday – that was about the idea of it, of having someone, that sort of someone... it wasn't specifically about Winnie.
And that right there? That distinction. It seems like such a little change but it's actually quite a big one. Book Jesse still has that thirst for living that his family lacks, but there's a sadness to him too...he feels there's something missing from his life, something he wants but can't have and he's lonely. He can see all the wonders the world has to offer and love every second of it, but he's still alone and it's a void his family can't fill.
Even the ending...it's a very subtle change: in the book, Mae and Tuck find Winnie's headstone. In the movie, it's Jesse. Because for movie Jesse, he was in love with her...while book Jesse just loved the idea of what she could've been to him.
Changing Winnie's age changed Jesse's motivation for asking her to drink from the spring and in doing that, it removed that loneliness from him. That sadness. Movie Jesse didn't seem like he was missing anything, but after he met her, he wanted to keep her.
I don't have a point really. There are other differences between the two, but I just wanted to discuss the impact that changing that one thing (i.e. making Winnie older) had on the characters and their motivations and the message.
Overall, I couldn't say which one I think works best. Both get the message across. They have the same destination even if the route getting there was different. I think by making Winnie older, it worked better for her character (i.e. she was giving up so much more so her choice had more impact), while having her be younger worked better for Jesse's (in showing that even he, the one who loves living, is missing something by being trapped in time like he is).
If anyone actually read this, some questions:
Do you prefer the movie or the book? Or, like me, both?
Do you agree/disagree with any of what I said? Or have anything to add?
p.s. Just to note: it's been quite a few years since I've last read the book so I may be remembering specific details, feel free to correct me.