For my fictional literary adaptation, I chose “Old School” by Tobias Wolff. This is a novel about a boy who attends a New England prep school; he is there on full scholarship due to his family’s financial struggles. He earned the scholarship with his extraordinary writing ability. Throughout the novel, you learn that the narrator (the boy) struggles with his own identity. Wolff does not even name the narrator because the perspective of the story is all from within the head of the narrator. This ties into the boys lack of identity. He spends his days at the school lying about multiple aspects of his life, even though some of his personal qualities could push him forward in life. He hides his Jewish heritage, even though it would look good in the eyes of the headmaster and his roommate, who is also Jewish. He looks to hide his financial status as well as the fact that he is on scholarship. For a short period of time while there, he is able to convince his classmates of these lies and becomes somewhat popular. The greatest quality that the boy has to offer is his ability to create literature. By the end of the story, he even lies about his own work. Although intriguing, I believe this story’s true quality is not seen in the plot and theme. I find that the greatest value of this story is the aspect in which the author writes the novel. The narrator literally holds nothing back. He reveals his most inner secrets. Most stories are told from a neutral standpoint and if not, the perspective of that story usually does not reveal the inner most thoughts of the characters. One reason for this is that some people’s thoughts are uncomfortable and best kept to themselves, but in “Old School” the narrative acts almost as if the novel is his journal, explaining his thoughts and feelings about each situation that arises. The reader is able to truly delve into the character, connecting on a new level.
I chose this book based on the connection that I was able to make with the narrator. I did not experience similar trials that he faced, but I did have struggles as a child and could relate my pain to that of the narrator’s. I could appreciate the brutal honesty with which the narrator conveys. I read this novel first when I was in middle school in an advanced english course. Even then, I could appreciate the way the author was able to allow the reader to step into the shoes of the boy. I would even go as far as to say that this story was one of the core reason as to why I began to study English. The connection one can make with a character of a story is unexplainable and only known to those who have experienced truly connecting with one.
Fortunately, the word ‘story’ does not solely relate to literature but film as well. Tobias Wolff’s most famous work is called “This Boy’s Life”; it was recently put to film. Many say that “Old School” is Wolff’s sequel to “This Boy’s Life”. “Old School” could easily be adapted to film, like “This Boy’s Life”, and would still be able to convey the overall sense of ‘truth’ that the literature does.