Comparisons Between A Novel and A Graphic Novel

Kindred: Compare and Contrast Essay
Due: Friday, May 24th at midnight
A compare and contrast essay demarcates the similarities and differences between two
items, ideas, seasons, concepts, cuisines, works of art, etc. (e.g., a book vs. a film’s
adaptation). For this assignment, you will write a five paragraph essay analyzing the
differences between Octavia Butler’s Kindred and Damian Duffy and John Jenning’s
adaptation. You must clearly identify and explain similarities and differences in (at
least) three of the following features: the settings, characters, plot events, dialogue,
and resolutions. In addition, you must analyze if/how the differences affect the story’s
portrayal.
STEPS TO CONSIDER:
Since we only have a class set of the graphic novel, you’ll have class time to
work on this essay. However, make sure you take notes in class so that you can
continue working on this essay at home. Plan accordingly.
● Which did you enjoy the most, the novel or the graphic novel? Why? Explain.
Provide specific examples.
● Describe how the elements of the book and graphic novel are alike and
different.
● Consider some of the artistic choices. The focal point, color scheme, panel size.
Why do you think the artist made these choices?
● Does the artistic representation heighten Butler’s message? Do the images help
in delivering the harsh conditions Dana or other characters have endured?
● What do you notice about Dana’s appearance in the graphic novel? Does
her depiction align with your interpretation based on Butler’s
description?
● Were any scenes altered? Were these changes drastic? What effect did
these changes have on the overall content? Did these decisions increase
the story’s message/did these changes enhance your enjoyment of the
story or your understanding?
GUIDELINES:
● Your essay should be two pages, written in 12pt font size, double-spaced.
● Your essay should include an introduction, three body paragraphs; each
paragraph should have a clear focus. Refer to the five-paragraph essay template
I provided earlier in the year.
● Your essay must have a clear thesis statement in your introductory paragraph.
Thesis sample: Throughout the film version of Great Expectations, what happens to
Pip is similar to what happens to him in Dickens’s novel. However, the movie is
different from the book because it leaves out certain characters, is told mostly
through dialogue instead of narration, and ends in a different way. As a result,
the film’s condensed version fails to live up to the great classic novel.
READ THE FOLLOWING SAMPLES FOR INSPIRATION:
SAMPLE 1
Science fiction is one literary genre whose possibilities in terms of generating engaging
stories are infinite. The only limit a science-fiction author has is his or her
imagination. However outlandish, impossible, or unbelievable a world described in the
novel is, if the author is talented, he or she will make it real for an audience. Robert
Heinlein was one of such masters. It is probably difficult to find a person in the
western world who would not at least partially be aware of his legacy, or who would
have not read such masterpieces as “The Puppet Masters,” “Tunnel in the Sky,”
Citizen of the Galaxy,” and many others.
There is, however, one novel that has become a true cult classic: “Starship Troopers,”
a title that is probably familiar to everyone living in the West. The original story was
published in 1959, and a year later brought Heinlein the Hugo Award for Best Novel.
Despite it having been written more than half a century ago, “Starship Troopers” still
remains a book without age–meaning that it does not look obsolete. On the contrary,
it is one of those novels that serve as a mainframe, a roadmap to younger generations
of authors who inherit the structure and the narrative of classics. “Starship Troopers”
did not have a literary sequel, but there were several movies released after the novel.
In fact, there were three screen versions, but the first one is the best, so for the sake
of comparison, let us juxtapose the novel with just one movie.
The book itself is written in the genre of military science fiction on behalf of the main
character: Juan “Johnny” Rico. A regular teenager from Buenos Aires, he decides to
enter the ranks of the army in order to earn his right to vote and become a citizen. In
the world Heinlein describes, the population of Earth (or Terra, as it is named in the
book) lives in a controlled democracy, a federation ruled by the military elite. The
society is prosperous, even though not everyone can enjoy the full scale of civic rights.
Citizenship and the rights it grants are extremely valuable, and thus come with great
responsibility. One must work hard to prove one can bear it. It does not mean that
those without citizenship are in any way inferior: on the contrary, the society is
described as rationally organized, and not everyone wants to be a citizen, as even
without this legality, life is good. Anyways, Rico decides he wants these rights, he is
ready for hardships, so he joins the Mobile Infantry. While he is serving in the army,
humanity is attacked by a race of Arachnids, or Bugs, as they are referred to in the
book. And so, Rico enters the war.
The storyline of the book mostly revolves around Rico’s time in Camp Arthur Currie:
a place where all the rookies have to undergo severe training, physical and moral, to
become soldiers. Later, when Rico is already a trooper and has some experience, he
starts studying to become an officer–the true elite of the army. Rico’s studying, him
gaining experience, becoming able to see deeper into the nature of the society he lives
in or the war the human race is engaged in–this is the true story, the true conflict of
“Starship Troopers.” In this regard, this book is a coming-of-age novel, which shows
a long and curvy road a teenager hothead has to walk before he or she can become a
true member of society. Very similar to the Catcher in the Rye, “Starship Troopers”
focuses on one personality placed into a social context. The war, military losses, the
Federation (which is actually a fascist state) and its propaganda: all this serves only as a
background for Rico’s growth.
Unlike the novel, the movie focuses around the war itself. Filmed by Paul Verhoeven
in 1997, it is a masterpiece of its own. It does share similarities with the book, and the
overall storyline is generally the same. There are, however, several crucial
discrepancies. They do not make the movie worse than the book: in fact, both of
them are great, but each in its own way. Verhoeven’s movie focuses mostly on the
context in which Rico and his closest friends live. The movie is full of cheesy
militaristic propaganda praising the Terran Federation and denouncing the Bugs.
These advertisements are a pleasure to watch on their own; if you remember
Verhoeven’s “RoboCop” (1987), you can imagine how it looks and feels. At the same
time, they do a great job describing the society of the future, conveying its spirit–even
though it is not depicted in the movie as detailed as in the novel. However, the
emphasis of the film is on the war against the Bugs. Combat, special effects,
animatronic dolls, decorations–all this looks good and feels good. However, this is not
a movie about Rico’s coming-of-age: it is mostly about him already being a true
citizen, a hero, a role model. Johnny’s doubts, fears, thoughts, failures, and insights are
left somewhere behind the scenes: in the movie, he has already found all the answers
he needed—and this is probably the biggest difference between the book and the
movie.
“Starship Troopers” is a great coming-of-age novel. Set in beautiful scenes of the
distant future, it tells a story of a young man’s maturation, of him realizing his civic
duties, the nature of the society he lives in–and of his agreement to continue living in
this society. The movie, in its turn, is intentionally filled with militaristic pathos. It
focuses on the atmosphere of a fascist interstellar empire called “Terran Federation,”
on its propaganda materials, on its spirit. And, of course, on the war with the Bugs.
The book is more of a contemplative autobiography (although it is vividly written and
engaging), whereas the film is more of an action movie. Both are good, however, and
should be acquainted with.
SAMPLE 2
It is commonly seen when a book is turned into a movie, to have significant changes
and alterations. Some add up to the overall thrill movie-makers want to create for
their audience, some fail to depict the writer’s thoughts when writing the book. The
novel Hunger Games is among those books that have been incarnated in the movie
theaters all over the globe. However, Suzanne Collis, writer of The Hunger Games,
would most certainly question several parts of her trilogy’s adaptation, as the movie
has some inevitable alterations that differ from the original writing. Some parts of the
book have been erased, while some characters have also been removed. What saves
the movie from completely deviating from the original is that Collins herself has been
the co-writer of the screenplay; therefore the core story is successfully depicted in the
movie, regardless of the differences that are found on screen, when compared to the
book. The purpose of this paper is to define the differences among the two and
evaluate whether the original message that the writer wanted to pass on to her
audience is faded.
Hunger Games is about a young teenager, Katniss that is a tough hunter and brings
food to the table, after her father’s death. She lives in District 12 in a city called
Panem. Every year the Capitol of the city hosts an event called Hunger Games, where
2 civilians, called “tributes”, of opposite sexes are selected from each district to fight
to the death in an arena. When Katniss’ sister was selected, Katniss offers herself to
replace her sister in the arena.
As a quick summary, I would say one of the discrepancies between the movie and the
book are the way they treat the relationship of Katniss and Rue, Katniss’ protégé in
the game, and then the death of Rue, including the reaction of Rue’s district to her
death. A second major discrepancy is the fact that in the book the Mocking Jay pin is
given to Katniss by the mayor’s daughter and in the film it is given to her by an
unknown old woman. In the movie there is also a third person account of what is
occurring outside of the games, including the game-maker and what he is doing and
what is going on with Gale back in the district. This does not occur in the book. The
last major discrepancy is the mutts that are used by the game-maker toward the end of
the games. They are toned down quite a bit in the movie and look mostly like vicious
dogs. In the book they have the eyes of the dead Tributes and are quite twisted. In the
end, the film does distort the novel to some degree, but in many ways complements it
as well.
Going over the discrepancies of the movie versus the book more thoroughly, one can
tell from the start that the reaction towards Rue’s death is clearly changed. In
particular, in the book Katniss is the sole person aware of the dropped into the arena
token that she was given by District 11 as a sign of appreciation for her noble acts,
while in the movie there is a far greater fuss going on over the reaction of the District
11.
In fact, Rue becomes more of an iconic figure throughout the sequels of the movie,
with the latest been released on November 22, 2013. Such is evident after Rue dies
from a villain killer and people of District 11 start to form a revolution, opposing to
Capitol patrol officers. Of course, this fight between the District 11 and the
government is shown in a greater extend in the movie, probably for viewing pleasure.
Another major difference is that there is no Avox girl, as one can read in the book.
Although one might say that it is a minor character that could as well be omitted from
the movie, the Avox girl has an important back story with Katniss. While reading the
novel, at the time when Katniss is getting ready for the Games, there are some Capitol
people that she meets with and serve drinks and food to her. One of the Capitol
servants is an Avox girl that has a distinctive place in Katniss’ memories. That
particular Avox servant is remembered by Katniss as a girl that was desperately trying
to escape from the Capitol, but was eventually under arrest by the government and
had her tongue removed after being charged with treachery. Katniss appears with
feelings of remorse for not having attempted to save that Avox girl, which is a
back-story never portrayed at full on screen.
Another diversified illustration of a death forms the next difference and involves
Thresh. In the book, Thresh is implied to have been murdered by Cato, who is the
wicked person that everybody accepts as a vicious cold-hearted man that has no
problem breaking his ally’s neck if he needs to. On the other hand, Thresh is assumed
to have been killed by some dogs that have been released in the arena, in order to kill
some tributes that still remain alive. That difference has affected the remaining
tributes’ final showdown intensity.
In the novel, Katniss volunteers and prepares herself for the Hunger Games, with
Haymitch and Cinna helping her. Once entering the games, her only focus is on
making them through. However, this is not the case when watching the movie, as
there are a lot of backstage information passed on to the audience. For that reason
President Snow and Seneca appear with largely bigger roles in the film. People also see
how the producers of the Games try to manipulate the tributes to keep them closer to
one another and what a tremendous amount of effort is needed to get the Hunger
Games going and make them appealing to the world of entertainment.
Deriving from the pre-mentioned fact that some minor characters in the book have a
more extended role on screen, the Game Maker gets his own big time in the movie,
while he is barely showcased in the book. His games, however, bear the same
confounded outcome in both the written and visual world and although the book
does not give much extend to the fate of the Game Maker until the Catching Fire
sequel, in the movie the Maker is faced with a one-way option: to kill himself by
eating poisonous berries. Just like he had set death traps for other people to fall into,
he had in fact fallen onto his own trap, and death was the only choice he could make,
facing the consequences of his own wrongdoings.
Katniss’ best friend is Gale (Hawthorne), based on the story as given in the book. The
both spend much time together, hunting and having fun and Katniss appears on a
constant evaluation of the feelings she nurtures for Gale. However, when she enters
the Games, Gale seems like a forgotten character that lives in Katniss’ mind. I the
movie, though, Gale is shown to have active role even after the Games begin, as he is
shown to closely monitor Katniss’ movements in the Games and her developed
relationship with another tribute.
Rue’s relationship with Katniss is also demonstrated on a dubious way. In the book
they share a strong empathy and appreciation for each other and form a kind of an
alliance in the Hunger Games. Rue becomes Katniss’ protégée, because the former
reminds the latter’s younger sister. That particular solidarity stays unrevealed on
screen.
Last, but not least, Katniss gets several people she cherished and loved visiting her
before she sets off to the Games fights. Some of them are Gale alongside her sister
and mother and Peeta’s father, who comes with his hands full. In particular, he offers
Katniss cookies that are later on thrown away by Katniss. Those scenes are excluded
from the film and the connection between Katniss and Peeta’s family is suppressed.
Of course, many will claim that all those changes were inevitable. However, in the
altar of enhanced and multiple viewing, which in turns means additional income,
movie-makers loose essential aspects of the writer’s viewpoint. Fortunately, in Hunger
Games, this is kept in low levels and deviations are not that serious, unlike other
book-to-movie makings.

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