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‘The Giving Tree’ is a short story written by Shel Silverstein. It revolves around the nature of humans and that of nature in itself, the stark contrast between the two brought out by the young boy and the tree featuring in the story.
About the Author:
Sheldon Allan Silverstein (1930-1999) was an American poet and writer. In addition, he was a notable cartoonist and songwriter as well. Famous works of his include ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends’, ‘The Missing Piece’, and ‘Falling Up’.
The theme of this short story is the greed of man. Through the story, it is revealed how man, from childhood to old age, keeps taking from nature without giving anything back to it in return. Here, the tree is a symbol of nature.
The Boy and the Loving Tree:
The story begins with a young boy and an apple tree that loved him to no ends. Him as a child playing with it brought it immense joy. However, as the boy grew, he grew more and more distant from the tree, saddening it.
In Pursuit of Money:
The boy, as he grew, was in need of more and more money. As a growing boy, he asked for money from the tree, to which it asked him to sell its apples and gain some. Next, as a young man, when he wanted a house, the tree asked him to take its branches, still loving as ever. Again, when he returned, now wanting to go off to another city for business, the tree generously asks him to chop of its trunk to build a boat and do so. Every time, the boy only asked and asked, merely to desert the poor tree once his needs were fulfilled.
As an old man, he returns once more to the tree which was now merely a stump. When it states that it has nothing more to offer to him, he states that he had come to merely rest for he was tired. The tree once again happily obliged his wishes. This is a story that sheds light on the selfish ways of humans and nature which repaid only with kindness.