Tuesday 24 September 2013

defending the ending

The Selfish Giant has been out for a little while now and hasn't attracted all that much attention yet.  One thing that has been causing some controversy is my decision to cut the original ending.  I thought it would be worth my explaining that decision here as it wasn't taken lightly!
To begin with it is worth remembering that this story has been around in an unabridged form for well over a hundred years and no-one is taking that version away; this is just a new interpretation.   My reasons for omitting the original ending were these:

My primary reason was that I thought that there was only really room for one narrative arc to be told comfortably in this 32 page picture book format.  Even without the ending I found I had to leave out several spreads I would have liked to include were there more room.  The story of the Giant's quest to find the boy again, of the boy's eventual return and the Giant's death and ascent to Paradise felt like a whole new tale and I thought it would have needed many more pages to do it justice.

Secondly, my abridgement and illustration of this story focuses on the character of the Giant.   I feel his journey toward redemption is complete when he gives up his garden to the children.  It seems to me that being able to share the garden is a reward in itself and he doesn't need the further reward of Paradise later on.  In fact it has always bothered me that it is possible to see right action in this life as merely an investment in hope of getting something back in the future. 

Last and least, I am not a Christian and I found the explicitly Christian nature of the original ending made it more difficult for me to understand what is in fact an excellent text on one of the great strengths of Christian morality, namely faith in the possibility of redemption. I feel that this is a story that has relevance to all faiths as well as to no faith at all.  It is about death and rebirth, about empathy and love, prejudice and fear, about holding on and letting go and about learning to trust in one another.  I feel that those are themes which have meaning for all of us and are not the exclusive province of a single doctrine.

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