Urania read from Wikipedia, “Elizabeth Bird, writing for the School Library Journal, described The Giving Tree as ‘one of the most divisive books in children’s literature’.”
“Well,” said Calliope, “some think it’s a story of unconditional love.”
“Some think it’s about environmental ethics,” said Thalia.
“Friendship… Is it a story of friendship?” said Cal.
“A representation of the parent-child relationship?” Thalia fidgeted in her chair.
“Is the tree teaching the child to be selfish?” Calliope asked.
“Or… perhaps hidden within the simple drawings and words, there is a societal metaphor,” said Urania. “I think the book is brilliant because instead of telling readers what to think…”
Thalia picked up Urania’s thread, “The story encourages them reflect…”
“… and think for themselves.” said Calliope.
Words from Typist:
Last week at the library I checked out two of Shel Silverstein’s books for children. I’m attracted to his black and white, minimalist illustrations. After reading The Giving Tree, I wondered, “Huh. What’s he trying to say?”
What if is that’s the real gift?
Trust in a reader to find their own meaning.
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I first saw The Giving Tree in my mid 20’s or so. Then, I mostly saw an unrealistically generous “tree” that didn’t know how to say no. And a child who grew up thinking the “same” tree would always be there. And always asking for more.
Now, about half a century later, I see a different view entirely! The “tree” represents people who choose to contribute to the stream of life. Offering what they have that may be of value. The child is a symbolic recipient of those who give. As time passes the giver’s contributions dwindle as do we. As the recipient makes his way in life, he learns that getting isn’t all that life offers.
I am much confused by this book also. It made me sad when I read it. But indeed: I did think about it. And do still.
Good of you trying to find something beautiful in the face of weirdness.