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The Giving Tree
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Giving Tree, first published in 1964, is a children's book written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein. This book has become one of Silverstein's best known titles and has been translated into more than 30 languages.

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

The story is a short moral tale about a relationship between a young boy and a tree in a forest. It tells the account of how the tree loves the boy, and helps the boy with his needs throughout his life, from the boy's childhood until his golden years.

At the beginning of the story, the boy plays with the tree all the time, climbing its trunk, swinging from its branches, and eating its apples. However, as the boy ages, he says that he can no longer play with the tree, and begins asking the tree for various things; first money, which the tree gives him its apples for; next a house for a family, which the tree gives up its branches for; then a boat, which the tree sacrifices its trunk for. By the end of the tree's life, it has become a stump - a mere fraction of what it was physically; even in this state, the boy and the tree can enjoy each other's company. When the tree says that it has nothing left to give, the boy (now an old man) says that he now only needs a place to rest, and so sits for a while on the tree's stump, making the tree happy.


Ever since the book was published, it has generated controversy and opposing opinions for its interpreted messages, on whether the tree is selfless or merely self-sacrificing, and whether the boy is selfish or reasonable in his demands of the tree.

A review of The Giving Tree: A Symposium shows some academic readers describing the book as portraying a vicious, one-sided relationship between the tree and the boy: with the tree as the selfless giver and the boy as a greedy and never-satisfied being who constantly receives, yet never gives anything back to the tree; a selfish love that could be misrepresented and imitated by its children readers. Indeed, some of these speakers single the tree out as either an irresponsible parent whose self-sacrifice has left the boy ill-equipped to cope and make his way in the world (and therefore led to him ending up alone) or as hopelessly co-dependent.

Other speakers, however, insisted that the book is a tale of unconditional love and generosity: the tree gives all it can to the boy because it loves him, and its feelings are reciprocated by the boy when he returns to the tree for a rest. In this way, the relationship between the tree and the boy as he grows up could be viewed as similar to that between a mother and her child; despite getting nothing in return for a long time, the tree puts the boy's needs foremost, because it wants him to be happy. Indeed, the only time the tree ever seems to be sad is when it feels that it has nothing left to give the boy and that the boy might never return.

As Timothy Jackson, a professor of Religious Studies at Stanford University put it:

Is this a sad tale? Well, it is sad in the same way that life is sad. We are all needy, and, if we are lucky and any good, we grow old using others and getting used up. Tears fall in our lives like leaves from a tree. Our finitude is not something to be regretted or despised, however; it is what makes giving (and receiving) possible. The more you blame the boy, the more you have to fault human existence. The more you blame the tree, the more you have to fault the very idea of parenting. Should the tree's giving be contingent on the boy's gratitude? If it were, if fathers and mothers waited on reciprocity before caring for their young, then we would all be doomed.

One element of the story that is agreed upon by both sides is that the story presents childhood as a time of happiness in comparison to the disappointments and sacrifices of zabranjenohood. Whether this is true to life is dependent upon how one perceives life.

One interpretation of the story not touched on by the speakers at the conference was interpreting the boy as the human race and the tree as [Mother Nature]. The Human Race has taken a great deal of irreplaceable resources from its Earth mother and not given anything in return. The book's ending could then be seen as a metaphor for the ultimate fate of both the planet and the Human Race: that we will have exhausted ourselves by consuming the resources of this planet and in the end all that she can offer us is a place to rest; all that we ever really needed. Note that the story only uses the word "need" at the end to describe the "boy's"/old man's need of a place to rest. All of his other desires are "wants."

The story is open to interpretation on many levels. When contemplated and examined in terms of the human condition it becomes clear that all of us have, at different times in our lives, played the role of both the boy and the tree.

Comparison to "A Boy Named Sue"

Shel Silverstein also wrote a well-known country song entitled "A Boy Named Sue", which serves as a counterpoint to "The Giving Tree". It tells the bawdy and humorous tale of a father who names his son "Sue" and promptly deserts him. In so doing, he guarantees that his son will grow up tough and self-sufficient (Sue gets into many fights over his name) and then makes himself completely unavailable. Another meditation on parental responsibility, the direct opposite to "The Giving Tree" both in tone and in message.

Vec spominjana na ovom forumu ali i te kako vrijedna ponovnog pomena.
Knjizica je pisana za djecu ali odrasli mogu da izvuku lijepe pouke iz nje. Sjecam se kada sam je prvi put procitala svojoj cerki, plakala je samo tako i rekla mi da ne voli tu knjigu jer ju je pogodia kao ni jedna prije. Medjutim, nedavno kada je imala neki specijalni zadatak u skoli, pitala me je za nju (posto smo je imali na naskom, trazili smo je u biblioteci na engleskom) tako da je ponosno prezentovala svoju (za sada) omiljenu najtuzniju knjigu. smešak

mnogo lepa i mnogo tuzna knjiga...
meni mozda podjednako tuzna kao mali princ -.-

to beshe na avali?

jeste, na avali!

I meni se cini da je na Avali Razz

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