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  #1  
Old 09-25-2003, 04:45 PM
lissener lissener is offline
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The Giving Tree is a twisted book

It has to be satire, right?

I mean, what a fucked-up relationship! The tree is a passive-aggressive martyr and codependent enabler, and the boy is self-centered ASSHOLE.

Does anybody really give this book to kids?
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  #2  
Old 09-25-2003, 04:48 PM
Peg Peg is offline
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I don't think it's supposed to be a satire, or at least I never read it as that. I know what you mean about the little boy, though. The Giving Tree is one of the books I re-visit every year or so and the boy irritates me more and more at each reading. But I think the lesson is that like the tree, you're supposed to give all to someone you love.
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Old 09-25-2003, 04:53 PM
lissener lissener is offline
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But surely no one expects you to give to the point of martyrdom? It seems like a parody of the stereotypical Jewish mother. "What more do you want from me? You want I should cut off my arm for you?"
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  #4  
Old 09-25-2003, 05:03 PM
cmonidareya cmonidareya is offline
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I agree. I hate this book. It has no redeeming value and teaches crappy lessons: "if you aren't doormat in life, BE ONE!" or conversely "take every last advantage you can of someone."
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  #5  
Old 09-25-2003, 05:59 PM
ArrMatey! ArrMatey! is offline
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I agree it's a somewhat disturbing book, but in the end I also feel it's from a somewhat less cynical time, when giving (quite literally) everything for someone you loved wasn't considered a bad thing.
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  #6  
Old 09-25-2003, 06:08 PM
dangermom dangermom is offline
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I suppose that's true, ArrrMatey. But the book has always bugged me. I hate that book, in fact. Maybe because I'm a woman and a mother, and I feel like the tree is supposed to be the mother to the boy (always have, since before having kids myself). She is, right? And so the message to me is, take yourself apart for people you love, and be happy when they come visit you on very rare occasions, but don't expect gratitude or anything nice like that!

And you know, in reality, I expect to give a lot for my children and am happy to do so; I'm just not going to obliterate myself in the process. Well, unless I throw myself in front of a moving train to shove them out of the way. Wouldn't that give them guilty nightmares and therapy fodder!
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  #7  
Old 09-25-2003, 06:18 PM
Gyrate Gyrate is offline
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Just out of curiosity, how do y'all feel about Wilde's The Happy Prince?
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  #8  
Old 09-25-2003, 06:23 PM
FabioClone FabioClone is offline
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All right, that's enough Tree bashing. Have none of you comprehended the message of the Giving Tree? It is clearly a story of unconditional love. The tree gives up whatever she can despite the fact that she cannot expect reasonable compensation from the boy.

Furthermore, an analysis of the Tree clearly indicates that she was no "passive-aggressive martyr." She never mentions her disappointments to the boy. A martyr would definitely make some mention of her sacrifice as the boy carts away a truckload of her branches. A more passive-aggressive tree would have tried to use her gifts to get something out of the boy. While the Tree does invite him to play, we never hear her whining "Oh, that's all right Boy. You just cut down my trunk and go have fun with it. I'll just wait here and continue being a rotting stump. As long as you're happy."
(I engage in hyperbole, I know. Still, I will require a specific instance from the text where the Tree was exhibiting passive aggressive behavior before I accept this.)

So does loving the boy make the Tree a "doormat"? Perhaps, but I view both the Tree and the boy as participants in a transaction. The boy received a bunch of gifts from the tree. In return, the Tree received the knowledge that the boy was happy. Since the text clearly states that this knowledge made her happy, I don't think she was too shortchanged by the deal. Certainly not enough to bring her up to doormat status. I don't think the Tree deserves any of the ridicule she's getting in this thread. Leaf the tree alone.

But I agree- the boy is an asshole.
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  #9  
Old 09-25-2003, 06:24 PM
lissener lissener is offline
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Don't know about this coming from a "less cynical time"; it was written by the guy who wrote these lyrics:
  • Well, I knew that snake was my own sweet dad
    From a worn-out picture that my mother'd had,
    And I knew that scar on his cheek and his evil eye.
    He was big and bent and gray and old,
    And I looked at him and my blood ran cold
    And I said: "My name is 'Sue!' How do you do!
    Now your gonna die!!"
and
  • It took seven months of urgin'
    Just to get that local virgin
    With the sweet face
    Up to my place
    To fool around a bit.
    Next day she woke up rosy,
    And she snuggled up so cozy.
    When she asked me how I liked it,
    Lord it hurts me to admit,

    I got stoned and I missed it.
    I got stoned and I missed it.
    I got stoned and it rolled right by.
    I got stoned and I missed it.
    I got stoned and I missed it.
    I got stoned... oh me... oh my.
and
  • And ever since my Masochistic Baby went and left me,
    I got nothin' to hit but the wall, oh no...
    Nothin' to beat but the eggs
    Nothin' to belt but my pants
    Nothin' to whip but the cream
    Nothin' to punch but the clock
    Nothin' to strike but a match.
and
  • She fumbles and stumbles
    And falls down the stairs,
    Makes love to the leg of the diningroom chair.
    She's ready for animals, women or men.

    She's doin' quaaludes again.
and
  • At the age of 37
    She realized she'd never ride
    Through Paris in a sports car
    With the warm wind in her hair.
    So she let the phone keep ringing
    As she sat there, softly singing
    Little nursery rhymes she'd memorized
    In her daddy's easy chair.

    Her husband is off to work,
    And the kids are off to school,
    And there were, oh, so many ways
    For her to spend the day:
    She could clean the house for hours
    Or rearrange the flowers
    Or run naked through the shady streets,
    Screaming all the way!
and
  • We gotta lotta little teenage blue-eyed groupies
    Who do anything we say.
    We got a genuine Indian guru
    Who’s teaching us a better way.
    We got all the friends that money can buy,
    So we never have to be alone.
    And we keep getting richer,
    But we can’t get our picture
    On the cover of the Rolling Stone.
and
  • I only wish they'd drop the bomb tomorrow
    To teach you a lesson for runnin' away from me,
    And then I'd helter-skelter.
    To our cozy family shelter
    And I'd lock you out and throw away the key...

    I'd be on the inside eatin' up both our rations
    While you'd be on the outside gettin' thin
    Yellin' and a-screamin' while you're catchin' radiations,
    But I'll never never never never never never
    Let you in!
. . . etc.
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  #10  
Old 09-25-2003, 06:28 PM
lissener lissener is offline
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Still disagree, Fabio. The tree's a martyr: she's happy not only because the boy's happy, but because she sacrificed all to make him happy. She's a masochist; a professional victim.
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  #11  
Old 09-25-2003, 06:35 PM
FabioClone FabioClone is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by lissener
Still disagree, Fabio. The tree's a martyr: she's happy not only because the boy's happy, but because she sacrificed all to make him happy. She's a masochist; a professional victim.
I doubt it. The book clearly states that the tree was happy before she sacrificed a single thing.
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  #12  
Old 09-25-2003, 07:00 PM
Hermione Hermione is offline
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Here's .02 from the children's librarian.

I think you can read "The Giving Tree" as a sort of cautionary tale, if you read it as the boy's story and not the tree's. The tree is happy for the sake of giving...and the boy, who only takes, never really seems happy or satisfied. As a man, he wants a wife and family, but when he next visits the tree years later, he wants to build a boat to sail away, being "too old and sad to play." Maybe the story's telling us that anyone who does nothing but take will never be happy.

And as for the ending...the old man had to know by now the tree had nothing left to give. But he's finally ready to give the tree the only thing she ever asked of him...companionship. And maybe, in this, he can finally find contentment, too.
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  #13  
Old 09-25-2003, 07:24 PM
Bill H. Bill H. is offline
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Just wanted to pen in to say that though I knew of many of the child-oriented workds of Shel Silverstein, I had no idea he'd done the adult work he had until lissener's lyric list above sparked me into doing some googling. Very impressive man, that Shel.

But I do agree about the Giving Tree. "Twisted" about nails it.
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  #14  
Old 09-25-2003, 07:46 PM
Shirley Ujest Shirley Ujest is offline
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This book is a terrible, terrible, terrible book.

The fact that it is a classic mystifies me. The fact there are morons out there that think Harry Potter is evil but read and like this book, just baffles me.

The tree is co-dependent. The kid is a spoiled little snot who takes and takes and takes and takes and takes without ever giving back and drives the tree down to nothing.

The Tree is a martyr , martyrs don't ask for anything back. They suffer silently because " it is what parents do for their children."

No.They.Don't.

Real parents with real backbone do not have a revolving door into their house to allow a child/ren to come waltzing in to ask for things over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Real parents give their kids parameters and say, " I rescue you once because it was a mistake/bad judgement call on your part. The next time, you won't be so lucky." Real parents let their kids learn from their mistakes.

It should be banned as much as the Disney Co-Dependant Princess Collection should be banned.

It encourages a mindset of enabling and dependancy instead of helping people to independence and thinking for themselves.


I can honestly say it is one of the worst books in print for children or adults. It is vile beyond description and it nearly makes me vomit in pure frustration whenever I see it as it is a blazing reminder of certain people I know who are afraid to grow beyond a specific mental age.
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  #15  
Old 09-25-2003, 07:52 PM
Sonyadora Sonyadora is offline
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I'm with Hermione. I always thought the point of the book was to make you hate the boy so much that you'd resolve never to be like him. I sure as hell wanted to smack that kid the first time I read it, and I think I was only 6.
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  #16  
Old 09-25-2003, 10:31 PM
MaddyStrut MaddyStrut is offline
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Perhaps you're right Hermione, but as a child reading that book, I just wasn't intellectual enough to get it. I just felt awfully sorry for that poor tree.

Mom read that book to me when I was a child and I just cried and cried. Poor mom. She thought she'd have a nice evening reading to her daughter and I just ended up a wailing snotty mess!
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  #17  
Old 09-25-2003, 10:54 PM
shy guy shy guy is offline
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I hated this book when it was read to us in elementary school. Even then I thought it was pretty much horrifying and incredibly sad.

I remember this book came up among some friends and I a couple years ago and we all agreed it was a completely twisted, depressing as hell book
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  #18  
Old 09-25-2003, 11:36 PM
Windwalker Windwalker is offline
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Geez Louise, you guys are trashing one of my favorite childhood books!

I first read the book when I was 8-9, and I could not fathom how anyone could get through it without hating the boy and really feeling sorry for the Tree. The thought never occured to me that some people might think this was encouraging being an abusive lout or an unconditional punching bag. I always became really sad by the end, and vowed that I would never become that crappy little boy.

I think what makes The Giving Tree so effective is that it doesn't really beat you over the head with a message, like children's picture books are apt to do. Instead it throws this sickening relationship at you, and lets you decide how to react to it. It is a children's book that got me (as a child) to think a little bit beyond myself.

I'd much rather they make this required reading than stuff like Cinderella...
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  #19  
Old 09-26-2003, 12:53 AM
shy guy shy guy is offline
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I'd much rather they make this required reading than stuff like Cinderella...
What's wrong with Cinderella? Or should I start a new thread...
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  #20  
Old 09-26-2003, 01:04 AM
scotandrsn scotandrsn is offline
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I think lissener has a really good point.

For years, parents have placed their children's imaginations in the hands of people who they probably would regard as relative degenerates:

Playboy writer Shel Silverstein (whose words to the poetic epic "the Smoke-off", about a marajuana-rolling contest, I didn't see in your reprinted lyrics, lissener);

Shining Time Station (Thomas the Tank Engine), starring either Ringo Starr or George Carlin, well-known drug-users both;

Pee-Wee Herman, whose original HBO special with The Groundlings should have left no one with the impression that he was to be taken at all seriously as a children's host, not even taking into consideration his extra-curricular activities;

the Bananas in Pajamas, who, according to their own theme song, are "coming down the stairs", and "going down in pairs";

The Smurfs, Barney and the Teletubbies, who are obviously products of writers' bouts with the DTs.

And let's not even talk about Davey and his (drug-induced?) delusional conversations with his dog Goliath...

I could go on and on...
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  #21  
Old 09-26-2003, 01:06 AM
scotandrsn scotandrsn is offline
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I forgot to mention the Warner Brothers and Sister Dot, with "bologna in their slacks..."
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  #22  
Old 09-26-2003, 01:09 AM
Kyomara Kyomara is offline
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I realize that this is a "children's" book, and we're used to children's books having a very simple, black-or-white interpretation. So it is natural to assume that either the boy or the tree is meant to represent some kind of ideal, or teach us a simple "moral."

But I think that this book is not meant to represent a good or a bad situation, but simply to represent a REAL situation. The author does not pass any judgement on the tree or the boy. He is not trying to guide is one direction or the other. It is up to you to look at the situation and decide what you think.

So I don't think the point is "the boy is an asshole" or "the tree is a good parent" or even "the tree is a doormat," I think the point is just "Look at this. It happens all the time."
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  #23  
Old 09-26-2003, 02:06 AM
Cardinal Cardinal is offline
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I too don't think it's supposed to be an endorsement of the tree's behavior. Anyone who is absolutely sure that's the intended meaning is not getting that directly from the text. As I tell my tutoring student while studying for the SAT, "Show me the line reference that clearly says your answer is right".

I always thought it represented a lot of true situations involving people who didn't know what else to do. It was a sad, kind of sweet story (in that the tree did love him so much), and a backhanded warning not to be the boy, or the tree, for that matter.

I had a teaching professor who stated authoritatively that the tree was a woman who is taken advantage of by the male. One teacher then said that he'd never read it in English, and that since "arbol" is a male noun in Spanish, it had never occured to him, and he wasn't any more impressed with the story with the tree as a "woman."

I myself was kind of insulted that it's supposedly only women who feel like they give and give and keep on giving, only to get nothing back.
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  #24  
Old 09-26-2003, 02:32 AM
Nightime Nightime is offline
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When I read it as a kid, my thoughts were "I'll be sure not to treat my parents like this." It actually works beautifully in getting this across. I never thought some people took it as an example of the right thing to do! Weird.
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  #25  
Old 09-26-2003, 02:53 AM
Derleth Derleth is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by scotandrsn
Shining Time Station (Thomas the Tank Engine), starring either Ringo Starr or George Carlin, well-known drug-users both;
I actually thought this was an urban legend, and I went to Snopes to research it.

Nada. No Snopes page the Snopes search engine can find has the phrase Shining Time Station.

:: egg first contacts face ::

So I go to imdb.com, thinking that if I can't find out who didn't play Mr. Conductor, I could at least find out who did.

And it was:

Ringo Starr (1990-1991)
George Carlin (1991-1993)

:: egg smashes on face, begins to fry ::

I have been wrong before. I have been wrong in public before. But rarely have I been so spectacularly wrong.
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  #26  
Old 09-26-2003, 02:54 AM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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I'm trying to recall how I first felt upon having the book read to me. I can't- I think I was sorry for the tree, but since I haven't reflected on the story since then, I hadn't really examined the boy's behavior. I'd have to agree with most of the posters that it's repulsive, and (perhaps based on nothing) I *don't* think the story is usually used as a cautionary tale by the people reading it to their kids/students. But hell, I'm not sure that a lot of people know why they read 'classic' books to their kids, they just do it because they've been told kids have to be read certain books.
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  #27  
Old 09-26-2003, 05:48 AM
Carnick Carnick is offline
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::trying to restrain murderous rage::

You insulted my favorite childhood book. NOW it's personal.

The book isn't supposed to teach you anything. It's a metaphor for unconditional love, that everybody (if they have a soul) feels at some point in their life. It's a tale that a child can understand, but deep enough for an adult to appreciate. Not every story smashes your face into some lesson political ideology. Read it, compare it to life, and take what you can from it. Is the tree a doormat? Is the boy an ass? Maybe, maybe not. It appeals to so many people because it's a real life situation with no easy answer to meditate on. When my mom read it to me, I felt sorry for the tree, and the boy. The tree gave everything when all it wanted was love. The boy was always too busy for companionship, and now that he is grown he realizes what he's missed out on. That's what I got from it when I was a kid, anyway. Children, while simple minded, aren't idiots. Talk to one someday, you'll be surprised.

If you truly want to know what's so great about The Giving Tree, stop dissecting it, sit down, and READ it.
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  #28  
Old 09-26-2003, 06:42 AM
effac3d effac3d is offline
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Having unconditional love doesn't mean you're spineless.

And I always read it as a tragic tale on both sides.
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  #29  
Old 09-26-2003, 09:49 AM
lissener lissener is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Carnick
. . . If you truly want to know what's so great about The Giving Tree, stop dissecting it, sit down, and READ it.
Sorry, but this is ridiculous and insulting. All of the people who have contributed to this thread have obviously read the book very carefully.
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  #30  
Old 09-26-2003, 12:23 PM
jsgoddess jsgoddess is offline
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I've always read it as a cautionary tale, too. "Look how you can take advantage of others and completely destroy them and stil not find happiness. Look at what selfishness does."

The important thing to me is that the tree is a tree. The tree isn't a person, though it is personified. The tree represents, to me, any resource that a selfish person could abuse, whether it's love, money, food, gasoline, a real tree. Demanding and getting whatever you want won't make you a happy person.

And the book makes me cry like mad.

Julie
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  #31  
Old 09-26-2003, 12:36 PM
dropzone dropzone is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Derleth
But rarely have I been so spectacularly wrong.
Forget about it. Seeing Ringo on that show the first time was a WTF? moment for me then he got replaced by, of all the people on God's Green Earth, GEORGE CARLIN? WTF cubed.
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  #32  
Old 09-26-2003, 12:42 PM
Achernar Achernar is offline
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How about that Missing Piece, huh? Heavy stuff.

I like both these books, but not because of any message they have. (And I am capable of appreciating a well-made message that I don't agree with.) I thought they were very evocative, and very moving. Just because a story doesn't tell you how to live your life doesn't mean it's a bad story.
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  #33  
Old 09-26-2003, 01:58 PM
KingLupid KingLupid is offline
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Lissener,

If we are going to limit the people who can play in or write for our children's programs to people who have not had questionable extracurricular activities, we aren't going to have ANY children's programming. Who cares what they do in their off time. Its not like they are using subliminal messages to turn the kids into junkies, or something, right?
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  #34  
Old 09-26-2003, 03:46 PM
criminalcatalog criminalcatalog is offline
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I like The Giving Tree. That's all that matters.
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  #35  
Old 09-26-2003, 04:47 PM
NFlanders NFlanders is offline
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I thought I was the only one who despised this book. I feel more normal now.
My interpretation has always been that this is the ultimate Mother Guilt Trip book.
"Look, I chopped myself down for you, and you don't even visit?"
I've always thought it was creepy.
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  #36  
Old 09-26-2003, 05:12 PM
Carnick Carnick is offline
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Sorry, but this is ridiculous and insulting. All of the people who have contributed to this thread have obviously read the book very carefully.
Exactly

Sorry if I came off too brash, I was just venting. More at Shirley Ujest, who slammed the book pretty hard. I didn't mean to insult you, lissener. I respect your opinion and all of that, no matter how wrong it might be

My point is, some things are better off not analyzed. Like The Giving Tree. Leave it alone. Really. It's just a cautionary tale as jsgoddess suggested. That's pretty much it. To answer your OP more specifically, yes the book is twisted, and in a way it is a satire - on life. That's the point. I think.
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  #37  
Old 09-26-2003, 05:50 PM
Miller Miller is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Carnick
My point is, some things are better off not analyzed.
This is never, ever true.
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  #38  
Old 09-26-2003, 06:42 PM
jsgoddess jsgoddess is offline
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Originally posted by Miller
This is never, ever true.
Well, how about rarely true? 'Cause there have definitely been things I've encountered that didn't need analyzed (at least by me), like the pattern of spray one generates when one sneezes on one's windshield.

Julie
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  #39  
Old 09-26-2003, 06:53 PM
Scylla Scylla is offline
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If you fail to understand The Giving Tree there is a simple experiment that you can conduct that will illustrate the point for you. Go and hurt the child of a loving parent in such a way that the parent will hear the child's cry of terror, or better yet, go out in the woods and torture a bear cub and see what happens when Mom shows up.

In either case, you are bound to encounter an extraordinarily focussed and implacable individual.

Have you ever seen a parent react to the cry of terror and pain made by their child? This reaction is perhaps the most awesome thing that exists in nature.

But, you really have to feel it to understand. Do you know what it feels like to hold your breath to the point of unbearable pain where every bone and muscle in your body is fighting for everything it can simply to take in breathe?

It's like that, except worse to hear your child in distress, and it hits you with that level of instinctual intensity.

I could feel the seeds of this planting as I held my daughter when she was born, and I looked at her little muppet face. A billion years of evolution had its way with me and I could feel it happening. It was like when you had your first orgasm and you think "OHMYGOD, what the heck is this?" It's a little instinctual surprise that your body has in store for you, and It's scary.

You just get hit with this wave, and are filled with the need to protect and nurture this little thing, and you have no choice in the matter.

But that's all instinct, and not what The Giving Tree is about.

If unconditional love has any meaning, any Mama Bear, loves it's Baby in whatever sense of the word you choose.

Mama Bear will destroy herself without hesitation in the act of protecting her child or answering it's distress.

When my wife was pregnant and had a placenta previa she essentially spent two weeks without moving at all so that the placenta would not detach and our child would have the best possible chance at survival. I really can't describe the awesomeness of that effort. Try it sometime lay down in a bed, and then just don't move. Keep it up for two weeks. I don't think I've ever seen somebody lay still with ferocity before. But that's how she layed there, and her effort and commitment had a palpable force that was scary and disturbing to behold.

But again, all this is instinct. As awesome as it is it's a commonplace miracle.

I think my parents loved me beyond themselves. It's hard to explain, but I think they just considered themselves willing tools that existed totally for the benefit of their children.

There were times that I thought there love for me was cloying and scary.

It took me until I had a kid before I really understood it. Now I'm not saying that parenthood gives me some privileged perspective or anything like that, it's just what it took for me to understand. But here it is:

In the fullness of adulthood, I am at the absolute height of my power in all senses of the world. My ability to earn money, my strength, my intellect, my experience, my endurance, my discipline: The power that I have to do things right now is greater than it has ever been, and dare I say greater than it ever will be.

To say it simply, I am at the summit of whatever it is that I am, whatever it is that is me.

Being where I am right now, anything I do for myself is simply a waste. Like the Giving Tree at the beginning of the story I have achieved fullness.

What is worth doing when you are at the fullness of yourself? Would you add more water to a glass filled to the brim? Would you just hoard it and let it sit there?

This fullness that I've achieved doesn't really reflect on me. I am here by happenstance, and the help of others who gave of themselves and still give to have brought me to this point.

So, what is it that is most worth doing for me?

The only purpose that makes any sense to me is to help others achieve this fullness, reach the height of whatever it is that they are.

Giving of myself to do that is really the only thing that is worthwhile for me, and in fact it guides most of my actions and purpose. Everything I do is for my daughter, to help her become the most fully realized person that she can be.

Helping her in this while seemingly altruistic is also self-serving. I have a purpose. I have meaning.

And, you're damn right. I'd cut off my limbs for my daughter's benefit if that's what it took.

To love her like I do is the most rewarding experience of my life. It feels better and more right than anything else ever has. It is a love that cannot and should not be returned to me. It would be a waste of my daughter's life and powers to return love like this. It would be unhealthy and self-consuming. I would not want it. But I sure hope she gets to feel this way about her own children. I hope she gets tot feel this level of fulfillment and purpose when she reaches the height of her powers and personhood.

I hope that everybody gets to feel this way about something or someone. I can't imagine the meaningless of life without such love. I would consider a life lived without it to have been the sick life.


Remember that the tree got everything it wanted. The tree was fulfilled.
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  #40  
Old 09-26-2003, 09:16 PM
KidCharlemagne KidCharlemagne is offline
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I'm with you lissener. I remember seeing this book on a friend's shelf and deciding to read it because it was always deemed a classic. My friend said it was her favorite book. I gave it a good Freudian analysis as I read it and was just appalled and practically had my friend in tears. I can't remember the details but I remember thinking the mother/tree was someone who lived vicariously through her children because she had no life of her own. Woe is fucking me. She was a pathetic martyr. The boy was just going through a typical self-centered period - it's the mother who is the terminal head case.
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  #41  
Old 09-27-2003, 01:19 AM
Miller Miller is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by jsgoddess
Well, how about rarely true? 'Cause there have definitely been things I've encountered that didn't need analyzed (at least by me), like the pattern of spray one generates when one sneezes on one's windshield.

Julie
If you don't stop to analyze the snot spray, you are missing that which is best in life.
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  #42  
Old 09-27-2003, 02:26 AM
Kaitlyn Kaitlyn is offline
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Toby Zeigler talking about his newborn kids on The West Wing:

They're great. And if somebody was hurtin' 'em, I'd drop napalm on Yellowstone to make them stop. Letting some prisoners out of jail wouldn't be nothing and I've known my kids for about forty-five minutes.

The Giving Tree isn't about what a parent should do for a child, it's about what a parent will do for a child, if necessary.

The tree and the boy are Mildred and Veda Pierce.
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  #43  
Old 09-27-2003, 11:46 AM
jsgoddess jsgoddess is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Miller
If you don't stop to analyze the snot spray, you are missing that which is best in life.
Well, sure, if you wanna be technical about it and, um, weird.



Julie
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  #44  
Old 09-27-2003, 12:47 PM
Derleth Derleth is offline
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Originally posted by Miller
If you don't stop to analyze the snot spray, you are missing that which is best in life.
I think that would make an absolutely great sig!

Mind if I use it?
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  #45  
Old 09-27-2003, 02:38 PM
soulmurk soulmurk is offline
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And I used to wonder how media geared towards children became so damn disgustingly sanitary.

Analyzing your environment is a good thing; applying cynical adult attitudes that a child could never possess to a simple story about basic human decency and deeming it unfitted for children is not.

If you're going to critique something geared towards children, you have to think like a child again. Frankly, I don't think the vast majority of people can or are willing to do that.

We all probably read Dr. Suess growing up, but at age 5, who among us was thinking, "This guy has to be on acid!"? Who of us, at age 7, was pondering Scooby Doo's Fred and Velma's sexual preferences? Or wondering why there was only one female Smurf in a village of males, and just where the baby eventually came from?

Children are innocent, and they remain so until we apply our own bitter cynicism to their world.

Just let it be.
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  #46  
Old 09-27-2003, 02:48 PM
Manda JO Manda JO is offline
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I read The GIveing Tree to my class each year.

I teach Juniors. This year I even read it to my AP students.

It's a great introduction to the fact that engaging in a text doesn't maen you have to agree with it, that discussing the messier, more painful parts of a story isn't tantamount to condoning them.

It's a great introduction to theme, because there are about 50 different "themes" that are pretty easy to extract from The Giving Tree--some of which contradict each other, or seem to in the end.

It's a great way to teach close reading--a critical line in the story takes place after the boy goes away with her trunk and it says "The tree was happy . . .but not really". The more sophisticated reading of the story point at how this line shifts the story.

It's a good way to teaching literary elements: everything from foreshadowing (The boy liked to "play king of the forest") to alliteration, to the parts of a plot.

And finally, it's a great intro to discussing how a story can operate on more than one level and have both levels be a "legitimate" way to read the piece. The Giving Tree is the story of a parent's unconditional love. It's also the story of a nice kid who was spoiled into being a brat and it ruined his chances for happiness. It's also a story about the destructive power of love. It's also a story about how redemption comes to those who wait. It's also a story about how giving maes people happier than recieving and a story about how love is in your actions, not in your words.

Lastly, its a good way to teach the difference between "multiple readings" and "whacky ass" readings. It's not a story about aliens taking over the local flora, nor about how good relationships must involve constant fighting.

(We do, of course, reinforce all these things with more traditional works of literature. But THe GIving Tree is a great gateway drug to the harder stuff)
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  #47  
Old 09-27-2003, 03:06 PM
Miller Miller is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Derleth
I think that would make an absolutely great sig!

Mind if I use it?
Help yourself.
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  #48  
Old 09-27-2003, 11:06 PM
InternetLegend InternetLegend is offline
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I suppose Roald Dahl's children's books aren't really popular with some of you, either?
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  #49  
Old 09-28-2003, 05:09 PM
rowrrbazzle rowrrbazzle is offline
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I'll just repeat what I posted in previous threads on this same subject. In one of his lectures, Leo Buscaglia said about this book, "That's not love, that's SICK!"
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  #50  
Old 09-28-2003, 06:00 PM
Cardinal Cardinal is offline
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It may be sick. That does seem to be the consensus here.

The real question is whether the book condones it. Some have assumed, at great volume, that it does. I have asked for a line reference or quote that shows that interpretation is clearly implied by the text, and no one has offered one.

The fact is that this book is written in very simple language, and does not lay the "right" interpretation out for the reader. It is left vague to make you think. Notice that the people who were screaming about the book being evil have not returned.
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