Referred to as his "most didactic novel", ''The Cider House Rules'' (1985) is the sixth novel by Creator/JohnIrving. It centers around the story of [[HeartwarmingOrphan Homer Wells]], an orphan in the Maine town of St. Cloud's, and his caretakers: the resident doctor and head of the boy's division, [[FunctionalAddict Dr. Wilbur Larch]], and his two aides, [[TeamMom Nurse Angela]] and [[UnrequitedLoveLastsForever Nurse Edna]]. Dr. Larch raises Homer and trains him in obstetrics, but Homer is reluctant due to his mentor's performance of illegal abortions at the hospital, which Homer is morally opposed to. The novel highlights the importance of personal convictions and purpose and weighs the two sides of the abortion debate.
The book was made into a 1999 film starring Creator/MichaelCaine, Creator/TobeyMaguire and Creator/CharlizeTheron.
!! The book and film provide examples of:
* AdaptationDistillation - The film leaves out quite a bit of the story, and takes place over a much shorter time period.
* AdaptedOut : Many characters due to the AdaptationDistillation, but primarily Melony, Angel, and Nurse Caroline.
* ArtisticLicenseMedicine: [[DeconstructedTrope Deconstructed.]] Most of the period medical information is taken from the notebook of John Irving's grandfather, a doctor from the same time period the story is set. The book compares Dr. Larch's medical and ethical practices to the quackery of the day while simultaneously examining how much these techniques have and have not changed.
* BadassCrew / RagtagBunchOfMisfits / FiveManBand: The apple pickers.
** TheLeader: Mr. Rose
** TheChick: Rose Rose
** TheLancer: Muddy
** TheSmartGuy: Hero ("He was a hero of some kind or other once.")
** TheBigGuy: Peaches (particularly in TheFilmOfTheBook, where he is played by an almost-silent Music/HeavyD)
* BlessedWithSuck: Homer, an orphaned teen with no medical license, just happens to be really great at ''performing abortions''--something he is morally opposed to doing.
* BuryYourGays: [[spoiler: Melony.]]
* ButWeUsedACondom: Wally and Candy used a condom [[spoiler:which turns out to have been sabotaged. Later, Homer and Candy.]].
* CatchPhrase /ArcWords : "Goodnight, you princes of Maine, you kings of New England." "Let us be happy for (name). (Name) has found a family. Good night, (name)." The latter become a MeaningfulEcho when [[spoiler:Fuzzy dies, as the otherwise sternly pragmatic Larch chooses to allow the other children to believe that Fuzzy has been adopted rather than break the news that he is dead]], while the former becomes so when Homer begins to use it [[spoiler: after Larch's death]].
* CelibateHero : Dr. Larch.
* ComesGreatResponsibility: Homer's narrative revolves around the question of whether or not he has a moral obligation to use his skill as an abortionist to save lives.
* ConvenientlyAnOrphan: It's like life ''wants'' Homer to be an orphan.
* FastestGunInTheWest: Mr. Rose, with his knife. Also a ChekhovsSkill.
* GoodGirlsAvoidAbortion: Averted with [[spoiler: Candy and Wally]], but later played straight with [[spoiler: Candy and Homer]].
* LittlestCancerPatient: Fuzzy, a fetal alcohol syndrome patient, is confined to an oxygen tent due to his damaged heart and severe asthma.
* MissionFromGod: Dr. Larch considers both performing abortions and running an orphanage as "the Lord's work".
* OrphanageOfLove: Dr. Larch and his nurses are torn between accepting that most of their orphans will never find homes and trying not to get too attached to them on the off-chance that they do. They usually end up getting attached anyway.
* PinballProtagonist: Homer, throughout parts of the novel.
* ParentalIncest: [[spoiler:Mr. Rose and his daughter, Rose Rose.]]
* RefusalOfTheCall: Homer is so morally opposed to abortion that he leaves the orphanage where they are performed.
* RepetitiveName: Rose Rose.
* RightThroughHisPants : Candy and Homer's first sex scene, in the woods. Including wearing their winter coats.
* ScrewTheRulesIMakeThem: Mr. Rose's opinion of the [[TitleDrop Cider House rules]].
* ScrewTheRulesImDoingWhatsRight: Dr. Larch's decision to perform illegal abortions at St. Cloud's.
* ShoutOut : Lots, to Literature/JaneEyre and Dickens.
* SinkOrSwimFatherhood: Dr. Larch's situation after Homer's final adoption failure.
* TheTalk: When the closest thing you have to a parent is an abortionist who runs an orphanage, you're bound to get an interesting version of this.
* TotallyRadical: Unintentional, but occurs if one interprets the last word of the title as a verb instead of a noun.
* WhoNamesTheirKidDude: The orphanage nurses assign their infant charges temporary names, many of which end up being permanent. This gets awkward when one of the nurses tends to name the boys after her many cats, resulting in children named Fuzzy, Snowy, and Smoky.