Analysis of the Giving Tree by Shel SilversteinJanuary 18, 2010
Shel Silverstein in the short story called The Giving Tree portrays happiness as being when we give and have the capacity to give. The boy in the story always wants and always takes and as a result is never happy or contented. He always comes back to the giving tree in search of happiness. He thinks that happiness is in money and possessions. Had he simply looked at the example the tree was making, he would have realized that happiness is in giving not receiving.
Whenever the boy leaves the tree, the tree becomes sad, not out of want for the boy, but out of want to give to the boy. Every time the opportunity arises for the tree to give she does and then is happy. At the end of the story when the boy is an old man, all he wants is a quiet place to sit and rest. He had become tired from all the work he had put into being happy. All the things that he had tried to make him happy were now gone. All he had was the stump of a tree. In contrast the tree, who no longer had anything to give, was happy even to the end because she was able to give everything she had to comfort the boy.
The first lesson learned is to balance giving and taking. The boy just comes back with more “needs” more wants but never gives and he never feels satisfied. We should learn from that and learn to be content. Not aimless. Not unmotivated. Not goal-less. But content with where we are at the moment even if we work towards a goal.
The second lesson learned is from the tree’s faults. You may ask…what did the tree do wrong? It died from it’s giving. Had the tree not allowed the boy to take the branches, the tree could have given many apples to many people and helped more than just one selfish person. While the tree has the lesson of giving rather than taking down, it doesn’t realize that it is actually being very dysfunctional in the relationship.