Tag Archives: characters

Light: Experience

21 Apr

The Giving TreeĀ offers much that represents the characteristic of being light and most of this lightness is in an aesthetic sense in terms of text and pictures. Each page is full of open, white space with the exception of a few words and lines that make the outlines of the tree and the boy. Not only is there a great deal of white space, but everything is in black and white- there is no color to be found, save for on the cover of the book. This lack of abundant text, art and color on each page leaves no option but to leave the reader with a sense of weightlessness- that this book is truly a light read.

Not only do the pages provide a sense of lightness, the quality of being light, but this book can also be read in less than three minutes- a “light” experience and not a cumbersome or daunting task. Calvino expresses what he feels to be light in terms of its antonym form- weightlessness. And while I do feel this book does provide lightness through its aesthetic attributes, it does weigh heavily on the heart in terms of emotions. This story is such that Silverstein ropes in the reader with just the right expression and wording in a most simple form. The connection developed between the tree and the boy, the boy and the tree and the reader and these characters is such a strong bond that one feels as though they are a part of the story. The reader experiences the sense of love, loyalty and imagination that is prevalent throughout the story through these relationships, and as these are some of the strongest emotions that humans can feel, an immense sense of weight, or heavy heartedness is felt when the boy is gone for such an extended period of time. When he comes back and takes and takes, multiple times, one feels a sense of empathy for the tree because we know that the tree cannot really be happy in her lonesome state.

From these observations, it is apparent that Silverstein has created a paradox through the juxtaposition of the sense of lightness prevalent in the aesthetics of the story and the great sense of weight from the emotional involvement invested by the reader. I feel as though the combination of these two attributes really contribute to the success of this story because of its ability to appeal to children as a story to which they can relate because of the boy’s active imagination and playful spirit, as well as the ability to appeal to adults because of its deeper meaning and emotional relevance to the characteristic of unconditional giving that we learn to develop as we love those around us.

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