In order to be adaptable, relating to multiplicity, the novel must focus on one story line even if there are many. Usually, it is best to have a clear beginning, middle, and end. As long as there is a clear path for the reader/ viewer to follow, the piece could be a successful adaptation. Even with multiple events, they relate to each other.
“The writer selects and arranges a series of these incidents so they build with increasing intensity or suspense toward an exciting or dramatic resolution. By the end of the story, the events need to ‘add up,’ ‘make sense,’ and give the audience a feeling that it has arrived somewhere and completed the story’s journey” (Seger 78).
In this way, “Weep Not, Child” is highly adaptable because it has a series of events that are all linked in some way or another. If it were chosen for adaption into film, it could easily go without cutting scenes since it is both short and everything is connected in a way that cutting could cause confusion. In the blox adaption I found it important to show the multiple desires of the characters and their relation to the earth. Also, I included the repetition of their occurrences within the novel.
Seger finds details and information to be an important aspect when adapting a piece. “Details in a novel build ideas, but they also give us information that is useful and often fascinating in itself” (Seger 21). Imagery translates well in adaptation because it applies to our senses. Seger gives an example from “Gone With the Wind” which describes a bloody scene of wounded soldiers during the Civil War. When described on paper, our minds automatically form the picture in our heads. We could have easily watched the same thing on film or looked at a picture depicting the scene.
Seger’s insights help me to focus my adaptation. There are so many scenes within the novel that could be translated into picture form. Instead, I chose some images that seemed to represent the novel in its entirety. The goal of the blox was to translate my perception of the novel to others. I did that not only through carefully chosen images but through the use of colors, saturation, and brightness.
An important aspect of adaptation is choosing a workable storyline. There can be many different stories following one person’s life. “There are many stories within one life; a life defies cinematic neatness and creates difficulties for anyone choosing which story to show” (Seger 49). This novel focuses on the adolescence of a fictional boy during a historical conflict in Kenya. It already is focused to one story line rather than every small thing that happens within his life. By isolating the novel to one specific main conflict, it is easier to adapt. “Weep Not, Child” makes things a little easier. Even though it may not be obvious, all of the conflicts in Njoroge’s life are tied to the Mau Mau uprising and its effect on him.
Taking exactitude to heart, I decided to focus more specifically on a single aspect of the novel in my blox. I looked at the critique of the education system of Kenya that Thiong’o poses. Njoroge believes he can return to Kenya after college to help regain the lost land. What he doesn’t see is that he is maintaining white supremacy by studying English literature and Christianity. He would rather learn about Europeans that his own culture, which no one else takes an interest in either. He gives up his mother’s stories for the white man’s. Njoroge does not have knowledge of who’s who among the educated whites, only that they have better schools and he wants to be like them.
A novel does not have to move quickly to be interesting yet a film does. Seger says that time movement is fluid. “It moves back and forth among past, present, and future” (Seger 23). It is easy for the narrator to take a paragraph or so to tell us the back story on certain characters. For example, we know that Njoroge’s older brother died in a European war. This is a source of conflict within the novel since his other brother, Boro, leads the Mau Mau uprising in retaliation of his death. The Mau Mau uprising causes the deaths of so many people Njoroge knows and loves, etc…
Adapting this can be complicated, however. How do you represent the past on film? Either a character talks about it or there is a flashback. How do you represent it in a blox? This is the mission I had to accomplish. I wanted to show how time is not static within the novel which I did through the evolution of man reversed upon itself. Is Njoroge gaining wisdom or losing faith in the world? The answer is both. We don’t necessarily have to grow in a progressive direction. Sometimes things go in circles and sometimes they go in reverse.
In order to adapt a novel into a picture, one has to focus on their feelings rather than the plot. A film is able to compile thousands of pictures together but the blox is just one. It is easier when focusing on something specific like the aspect of lightness within the novel.
Seger recommends keeping the story simple when writing an adaptation. “Novels can handle complex stories and themes…For a film, it’s often necessary to simplify the story…I believe an audience should be able to understand much of a film by looking at the moving pictures” (Seger 107). “Weep Not, Child” can be very complex relating to Njoroge’s thoughts and actions. When I think of this novel in relation to lightness, I am compelled to think about Njoroge’s outlook on life. He is so hopeful, always thinking about the promises of tomorrow. However, this personality trait is a flaw for him. He refuses to accept the negativity around him and instead distances himself. This is the focus for my adaptation. Unable to include all themes in the blox, I concentrate on Njoroge’s feigned lightness which is revealed to be what holds him down in the end.