The Cider House Rules

From Academic Kids

Missing image
The Cider House Rules book cover

The Cider House Rules is a novel by John Irving and was later made into a 1999 movie directed by Lasse Hallström..

Film Plot

The Cider House Rules, a film released by [[Disney] subsidiary Miramax World War II-era abortionist Wilbur Larch (Michael Caine), offers salvation to women by delivering them from the supposed curse of pregnancy. "I give them what they want — either an orphan or an abortion," Larch explains. Women seek him out at his state-run orphanage in the fictional town of St. Cloud’s, Maine, where — according to their preference — their children are either delivered at term and deposited in the orphanage, or terminated in the womb and their remains carted away to the incinerator.

Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire), a college-age orphan who couldn’t find an adoptive home, has been trained by the abortionist to carry on what he calls "the Lord’s work." However, Homer — sensible of the fact that he "could have ended up in the incinerator," initially resists the destiny Larch has chosen for him.

After a glamorous young couple — Lieutenant Wally Worthington (Paul Rudd) and his inamorata, Candy Kendall (Charlize Theron) — arrive at St. Cloud’s for an abortion, Homer decides to join them in search of a life of his own. He winds up working with Candy at the Worthington family’s apple orchard. All the other migrant workers are black, but Homer's honesty and open-mindedness win them over. He bunks with them in the barn under the watchful eye of their strict foreman, who has an attractive daughter named Rose. After Wally, an Army Air Corps bomber pilot, is called to duty in Burma, Candy seeks consolation in an affair with Homer.

Late in the film it is revealed that Rose (Erykah Badu), the daughter of the crew chief, has become pregnant by her father. Candy, who is aware of Homer’s background, implores the reluctant young man to take the girl to St. Cloud’s, but her father refuses to let her go. By this time, Larch had sent to Homer a medical kit equipped with the tools of the abortionist’s trade, which Homer has kept concealed under his bed. Still hesitant to commit an abortion on Rose, Homer urges her not to "do anything" to herself. Eventually he relents and tells Rose and her father that he can help them dispose of the unwanted child.

The title refers to the rules to be obeyed by apple-pickers living in the cider house. For years they have never even read, let alone observed the rules. When they are read out loud, their arbitrary and paternalistic nature offends the workers. They complain: "Somebody who don't live here made them rules. Them rules ain't for us. They think we're dumb niggers so we need dumb rules".

Criticism from Religious Pro-Life Groups

Religious Pro-Life groups have criticised the movie as essentially being pro-choice propoganda. They argue that in a series of short discussions between Homer and his father-figure, Larch, present the pro-abortion position, allowing Larch to make a well thought-out argument. Meanwhile, Homer's defenses for the pro-life side are vague. He opposes the procedure only because it's messy and illegal. He seems unaware that the lives of unborn children are at stake.

The orphanage board wants Larch to name his successor. But the doctor resists hiring anyone who's properly qualified. He fears any sort of interference with his unorthodox operation, which includes abortions. He wants Homer to take his place and manufactures phony credentials to fool the board. The filmmakers treat this subterfuge with good humor, believing that the institution is a citadel of goodness which should be preserved by any means necessary.

Rose becomes pregnant and threatens to abort herself, using dangerous methods. The filmmakers present this situation as the most important moment in Homer's moral journey. Will he intervene and perform an abortion on the young woman, utilizing the so-called safe procedures he learned from Larch? Or, will he allow her to attempt it on her own and risk her life?

The movie is constructed so that the audience will root for Homer to abort Rose's unborn child. We're meant to see this as the final step in his coming-of-age. The assumption is that he will grow up to be a moral man only if he agrees to become an abortionist. Furthermore, we're supposed to hope he returns to the orphanage and makes these procedures a permanent part of his professional repertoire.

The pro-life groups contend that the usage of an uncommon occurance of a father raping a daughter is sufficient reasoning and logic to justify all abortions. Additionally, it is viewed as thinly veiled propoganda to advance the cause of abortionists and to convert people to being pro-choice.

Primary cast:

The composer of the musical score was Rachel Portman.

John Irving also wrote the screenplay and won the Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay. For his performance in the film, Michael Caine won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Irving himself appears briefly in the film, twice, as the disapproving stationmaster.

It was also made into a two part play by Peter Parnell.

Template:Lit-stubde:Gottes Werk und Teufels Beitrag (Buch) fr:L'Œuvre de Dieu, la Part du Diable


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools