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Where the Heart Is: Compare and Contrast

10 May 2017Literature Essays

“Where the Heart Is” was written by Billie Lets in 1995. It was made into a movie by Director Matt Williams and producer Susan Cartsonis in the year 2000. The novel and the movie follows closely the story of Novalee Nation who was abandoned by Willy Jack, her boyfriend, while they were on their way to another state.

Novalee learned how to live inside Wal-Mart undetected. She kept track of all the stuff that she ate, thinking that she will pay it back when she gets a job. While in the town, she met Sister Husband, Forney and Lexie who had a strong impact on her life. Forney discovered that Novalee was living in the Wal-Mart store. He helped Novalee deliver her baby inside the Wal-Mart store. Because of that incident, Novalee gained national media attention and was given money by a lot of people and even by Sam Walton. Her mother shows up, takes her money and disappears. Meanwhile, she develops a deeper relationship with Sister Husband and Lexie in place of her mother.

Willy Jack, on the other hand, becomes a recording artist, but in the end he was consumed by his vices and he was dropped by the talent manager who discovered him. Novalee also became a good photographer and artist. Along the way, Forney fell in love with Novalee. During the funeral of Forney’s sister, Novalee comforted him. When he confessed of his love for her, however, she lied and turned him down because she thought that he had a lot of dreams for himself and might only get dragged down if they developed a relationship. Lexie advised Novalee repeatedly to write to Forney and tell him about her love.

Towards the end of the novel, Novalee accidentally discovered that Willy Jack lost his leg. She visits him and tells him about her daughter Americus. Willy Jack then confessed to saying a lie about feeling the heartbeat of his then unborn daughter. He said that such lie cost him his life. In the end, Novalee forgives Willy Jack, calls Forney and asked him if it were not too late for them to be together. Forney responds by saying that they could still be together.

Although the movie followed the plot and the storyline of the novel, there were marked differences. One of the key characters in the novel, Benny Goodluck, was not used in the film. Benny helped Novalee win the Kodak prize, which helped her become a photographer. The buckeye tree, which was an important metaphor in the story was also given by Benny in the novel and not by Sister Husband. In addition to this, the role of Willy Jack and his life was minimized in the film. In the book, Sam Walton personally visited and wrote off the debt of Novalee from Wal-Mart but in the film she only mentioned about the incident to her mother. The role of Forney has been minimized a bit in the film also. In the book, he spends a lot of time with Novalee and Americus. He even brings a book from the library everyday and grew fond of Americus in the process. Forney also accompanied Novalee in going to Santa Fe, but she travels alone in the film. In the book, Forney travels around and then lands a job at a bookstore in Chicago while in the film, he goes to college and leaves town. Finally, the film showed Novalee and Forney getting married but this has not been in the book.

Even with the differences between the novel and the book, both media still followed closely the life of Novalee together with the lessons she learned along the way.
Outline

I. Introduction: Brief information about the book and the film.
A. The book was written by Billie Lets
B. The film was directed by Matt Williams and produced by Susan Cartsonis.

II. The Plot of the film
Novalee was traveling with her boyfriend, but he left her.
Novalee lives at Wal-Mart and develops several relationships that are important to her.
Forney, a booklover, helps Novalee and her daughter.
Forney and Novalee’s relationship develops and becomes complicated as Forney falls in love with her.
Novalee discovers about Willy Jack’s fate.
Novalee and Forney gets together again to pursue their relationship.

III. Differences between the movie and the film.
Benny Goodluck was never portrayed in the film.
The role of Willy Jack has been minimized in the film, so is the role of Forney.
Forney and Novalee’s relationship ended well in both the film and the novel.

IV. Conclusion: The novel and the film still portrays well the life of Novalee and the lessons she learned.

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