Neil Gaiman’s book Caroline (2002) and Henry Selick’s film by the same title (2009) bring out outstanding ideas and views on the button eyes. The two pieces of art use this symbol to convey the theme of fantasy. Button eyes both in the book and the film make a distinction between the real world and the fantasy realm.
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Gaiman uses this symbol to show that in order to join the fantasy realm and become like its inhabitants one must be like them. Button eyes are the distinguishing factor between residents of the real and the fantasy worlds. Caroline enjoys having fun in the fantasy world, but she cannot do that to the fullest unless she sews the button eyes upon her real ones. In the same way, Selick uses button eyes to show the distinctive features of people or creatures living in a fantasy realm. These eyes, both in the book and the film are like windows to fantasy. They open a way to the magical world where everything is perfect. When Caroline gets into the tunnel through the door that she is warned not to open, she finds people resembling those living in her real environment, but they are friendly and caring. Instead of her parents who are tired of her teenage stubbornness and always busy, she finds those resembling her real ones, but they are ready to listen to her. Caroline longs to get listening ears from her parents and loving attitude from her neighbors and family. She does not get tis in the real world, but through the button eyes, she gets all of it.
However, as it later turns out, living in a fantasy is difficult and even painful. For Caroline to continue living in the perfect magical world, with her caring imaginary parents, she has to get the button eyes upon hers. It seems to be a painful practice. Getting button eyes would mean to stop seeing things in a normal way. Seeing life through the button eyes would mean for Caroline to take life simply and live in the world of her imagination. Seeing life through such eyes also comes with the fear of the unknown. Caroline cannot tell what to expect if she gets the button eyes before talking to the ghost kids. The fact that it is painful and unrealistic to live with button eyes is confirmed by the ghost kids who tell her about their fate. Button eyes are used in the book and the film to enable characters to see things differently. For example, in the film, Selick introduces Wybie into the fantasy realm to show that people can relate differently if they try to view things in another way. In the real world, Caroline and Wybie do not get along well. On the contrary, in the fantasy realm, they are allies and work towards a common goal. This tells the audience that if people consider things from a different perspective, then life can be different. Lastly, both Selick and Gaiman show how short a fantasy is in the real sense. Using the ghost kids, who died after the fantasy motther got bored of them, they tell the audience that even though fantasy is sweet, it lasts for a short while. The fact that Caroline defeats the fantasy mother and gets her parents back saving the ghosts of the kids is a proof that good overcomes evil. This act shows that, even without the button eyes, it is possible to appreciate life and get the most out of it.
In conclusion, both the book and the film have a lot in common concerning the issue of button eyes, although there are some differences. Being an adaptation of the book, the film shows more or less the same ideas that the book propagates. The major difference between the way the book and the film bring out the button eyes is that the film creates clearer view in the mind of the audience than the book does. The book tells of button eyes, but the film brings out the idea to visibility, hence making it more real to viewerss than it is to the readers of the book. Apart from the introduction of Wybie into the fantasy realm of button eyes, there is no other major difference between the book and the film. Both the author and the director have used button eyes successfully in their pieces to evoke imagination in the minds of viewers and readers. The authors demonstrate a moral lesson telling that it is possible to view things from a different perspective. They also teach the audience that is possible to overcome evil through rejecting it.
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