Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Devils_Advocate

The Giving Tree

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Our English teacher read us (remember, I'm in 10th grade, so this was really weird) "The Giving Tree" a couple of days ago. Shortly after remembering having heard it in 3rd grade and feeling a nauseating sensation, a deeply buried memory from my past became unearthed. I remembered that in 3rd Grade, I played the part of the supremely altruistic tree in the school's production of a play version of "the Giving Tree".

I was just wondering if anyone else had bad elementary school memories involving this story, because I can't imagine many of us were read "The Adventures of Ragnar Daneskjold" as bedtime stories.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was read "The Giving Tree" as a child by my mom. The basic idea of the story is that the tree gives everything of itself: its fruit, its branches, its trunks, all of its being to this one person, from his infancy to his last moments. The tree donates every fiber of itself to the whims of this one man who keeps leaving and returning, years and years spaced apart.

This kind of philosophy SCREAMS altruism. This kind of person is BEGGING for an abusive relationship. I have no clue WHY my mom would have read this to me.

To sum it up: the tree is treated like shit by the man, and takes it with a smile. Which is allegedly "moral".

Edited by NickS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the academic criticism of the book, we also see great examples of the effects of altruism. Basically, there's two views: either the boy is a vicious, abusive partner in this relationship, thus being 'Selfish'; or, he is a wonderful example of how most men do (and it is meant to be read as: should) live, and that if we didn't, 'selfish' parents would abandon their children and the world would fall apart.

So, either it's a great story of the beauty of selflessness, or it's a horrible example of selfishness - so they say.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I liked the book as a kid and have a fond memory of it. If I recall correctly, I thought it was interesting how the tree was utilized by the man over the course of so many years. It wasn't wasted, yet it was exploited by a single man over the course of a lifetime to make the man's life better.

Oh, and trees aren't volitional. <_<

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, one could view it as a parent child relationship - the tree keeps giving because the tree values the brat so much.

That's my angle with it and I am sticking to it. =)

When my kids and I read it, we discuss it in that regard, but also ask them what they think about it.

This is one of those books that I think people love or hate, and most of those I know that have studied Objectivism see it on the bad end of the spectrum. I don't believe that has to necessarily be the case at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, this is a total eye opener for me. I always thought the book was a moral story explaining why one shouldn't give everything of oneself, or else you'll end up like that tree. Huh.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I disagree with the original poster, and moreover I have fond memories of this book. The fundamental thing professed in this book is not, as the academics would interpret, one which professes altruism, but one which professes man's allegiance to nature, ie. the fact that man uses nature to shape his ideal world. This book is somewhat ambiguous in intellectual circles, and what I mean by that is that the true meaning of the book is a very controversial topic debated amongst intellectuals. Altruism is absolutely not the predominant ideal in this book, and moreover I think that you are mistaken with regards to your reasoning.

But, however, I do think that there is something to be said about our socialized school system, that being that it lends itself towards the misportrayal of great classics. For example, in my high school English class, classics such as Moby Dick and others (which I cannot remember the name of at the moment), are split up into tidbits, i.e. we never got to actually read the book, but we rather read a short summary of it. I think that you have to consider the entirety of the context of the situation with regards to this, being that if your reasoning is not sharp enough, you might make the mistake of jumping to conclusions (based upon the false premonitions of your school teachers).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You want an altuisic book? Try Rainbow Fish. Here is a summary of the plot:

"The story follows the beautiful Rainbow Fish, who is covered in colorful shiny scales. Proud and vain, he thinks he is better than all the other fish and will not play with them. When one small fish asks the Rainbow Fish for one of his scales, he rejects him. The other fish then refuse to talk to the Rainbow Fish at all, so the Rainbow Fish visits the wise female octopus for advice. The octopus advises him to give away his scales to the other fish.

When he encounters the small fish a second time, the Rainbow Fish gives him one of his precious scales, and is very soon surrounded by other fish requesting scales. Eventually, the Rainbow Fish has only one shiny scale left, but he is no longer vain. He spends his days playing happily with the other fish."

So, the Rainbow Fish has to sink to the level of mediocrity in order to be happy. This is taught in some schools. Nothing but socialist indoctronation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You want an altuisic book? Try Rainbow Fish. Here is a summary of the plot:

"The story follows the beautiful Rainbow Fish, who is covered in colorful shiny scales. Proud and vain, he thinks he is better than all the other fish and will not play with them. When one small fish asks the Rainbow Fish for one of his scales, he rejects him. The other fish then refuse to talk to the Rainbow Fish at all, so the Rainbow Fish visits the wise female octopus for advice. The octopus advises him to give away his scales to the other fish.

When he encounters the small fish a second time, the Rainbow Fish gives him one of his precious scales, and is very soon surrounded by other fish requesting scales. Eventually, the Rainbow Fish has only one shiny scale left, but he is no longer vain. He spends his days playing happily with the other fish."

So, the Rainbow Fish has to sink to the level of mediocrity in order to be happy. This is taught in some schools. Nothing but socialist indoctronation.

I have that book around here somewhere... fun stuff... ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, but fish grow their scales back. So he'll be happy and have all his scales back. I don't have a problem with that.

Edited by Zedic

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, it's an allegorical story, but it's also undeniable that fish grow their scales back.

Also, on further reflection, if you're an optimist it's conceivable to interpret the story as being one about value; if you can spare to part with something others envy, and if it's your value, you can give it to others for the exchange of being happy in sharing the joy said object brings to each individual.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The story is suggesting that you MUST sacrifice the things you value to make everyone happy. That is altruism and it's awful. If you disagree with that, you should take your argument to the debate area of the forum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zedic, the Rainbow Fish sacrifices his individuality to be part of the collective. The story is wrong on all levels, not to mention being thinly disguised Marxist/Socialist propoganda being force-fed to our children, before they have the discrimination to tell the difference between a harmless story and indoctrination.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The story is suggesting that you MUST sacrifice the things you value to make everyone happy. That is altruism and it's awful. If you disagree with that, you should take your argument to the debate area of the forum.

I apologize, next time I will respond without offering an opinion. :lol: I say you, sir, you should take your debate to the debate area of the forum. Owned.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I apologize, next time I will respond without offering an opinion. :lol: I say you, sir, you should take your debate to the debate area of the forum. Owned.

1.) I'm a girl

2.) I was responding to the posts directly above mine (Zedic)

3.) I have no idea what you're talking about

:lol:

Edited by K-Mac

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yeah, but fish grow their scales back. So he'll be happy and have all his scales back. I don't have a problem with that.

Yes, but not in fables. If you introduce reality into a fable you render it useless. Lions don't talk, to Androchles or to anyone. Turtles don't race hares (or rabbits) and ants and grasshoppers don't think or speak (for that matter fish don't play and are not vain). So in this particualr story this particualr fish doesn't grow back his scales.

As for trees, they don't give anything. Man plants trees in roder to chop them for wood and bark (bark can be very useful depending on species) or to grow food, or to grwo something else (like rubber or maple syrup). left to themselves they do what every other mindless living thing does: they live and reproduce. How they go about it varies. But that , too, ruins the parable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I liked the book as a kid and have a fond memory of it. If I recall correctly, I thought it was interesting how the tree was utilized by the man over the course of so many years. It wasn't wasted, yet it was exploited by a single man over the course of a lifetime to make the man's life better.

Oh, and trees aren't volitional. :lol:

I think it would've made more sense if the boy/man had been the one to give the tree nutrients. That would make more sense. A tree can't just magically produce all of the things man needs. It must be treated according to man's knowledge about its nature. So the boy/man gives something to the tree and in return reaps the benefits.

Then it could be The Capitalist Tree. XD

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...