Tuck Everlasting Book Vs Movie Essay

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.

 There are many similarities and differences between the novel Tuck Everlasting 


and the movie(2002 version). Tuck Everlasting is written by Natalie Babbitt


Specifically I will be stating 3 of the differences and 3 of the similarities about the plot. I'm going to mention different parts of the novel and compare them to the movie.  I will tell you why I think that the director of the movie might have changed certain things for a certain reason. The parts of the novel that I will be writing about are when Winnie meets Jesse in the novel and in the movie, when Winnie runs away in the novel and in the movie, and finally, when Winnie finds out about the Tuck's secret in the novel and in the movie. Winnie's full name is Winnifred Foster, however everyone just calls her Winnie.



There are similarities when Winnie meets Jesse in the novel and in the movie. One of them is that Winnie wants to drink from the spring as she plaintively states in the novel "I'm getting thirstier by the minute" she states this because she had been running around in the woods. In the novel, she is spying on Jesse before she asks for a drink when he says, "You might as well come out". She comes out and he asks what she's doing there. She says that it's her wood and that she can come out whenever she wants to. In the movie, Winnie is running away from home and suddenly she trips, and comes to see a boy drinking form a spring. This boy turns out to be Jesse Tuck. She asks if she can get a drink, Jesse says no, instead he calls the spring water "poisoned". When Winnie walks up to him and is just about to take a drink, Miles suddenly swoops by and seizes her, then pinning her down on to the horse. Jesse follows them until they reach the Tucks house.



Another one of the big scenes is where Winnie runs away. In the novel, she runs in to the woods to find the "elf" music her grandmother was talking about the night before. There she meets Jesse. In the movie, Winnie hears that she has to go to a boarding school that is 500 miles away. The narrator in the film, describes her running away as "Winnie didn't really plan on running away, little did people know she just wanted to take a step out of her own house."



The similarities about Winnie finding out about the Tuck's secret in the novel are that by the time she finds out about the secret, she has already been kidnapped. Another thing in the novel is that when the Tucks do kidnap her, they calmed her down by having Mae Tuck showing Winnie her music box. After hearing the music, Winnie thinks, "anyone who owned a thing like that couldn't be too disagreeable." When she does find out, they have taken her to "a place with a shallow stream looped near with willows, and sheltering, scrubby bushes. In the movie she gets kidnapped and the narrator tells you that Winnie lost track of the days that had gone by. She started to bond much more with Jesse and he teaches her how to swim. Afterwards she dances around a fire when, Jesse starts to tell her the secret the Tucks have been hiding for years. Miles overhears him talking about it and finishes it off. Miles told her that he used to be married, and had 2 children Bo and Anna. Before he was married, the Tucks were traveling to different places. One place they found a spring and everyone including Mae, Angus, Jesse, Miles and the horse drank the water. One day while Jesse was up in a tree, he fell out and tumbled to the ground headfirst. The Tucks realized that it didn't hurt him a bit. Miles's wife started to realize that he wasn't aging. She along with the kids left him. They thought he was involved with black magic. Neighbours and friends kept on leaving. Then Miles heard that Anna died from influenza when she was 7.

I think that changes (just in general) to the plot were made because it would be much easier for the filmmakers to the stunts and everything. I also think that they wanted to add some action to the film. Winnie is also older, so they didn’t have her talking to a toad. In the novel, Winnie is 10 going on 11 and in the film she is 14 going on 15.


So this is my essay on Tuck Everlasting. I think that people who want to see the movie, should; however I recommend reading the novel first. In the novel, Angus Tuck quotes “Life. Moving, growing, changing, never the same two minutes together.” So even though some people might think living forever is pretty great, you definitely would get bored and tired of it. A lot of people still might want to live forever, though after they read this book, they might as well change their minds. One last difference is that in the novel, Winnie dies at 78 years old. In the movie she dies at 100.

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