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The Giving Tree

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Shel Silverstein was born on September 25, 1930. He was a cartoonist, guitarist and song writer as well as an author. Although he never planned on writing for children ("Shel Silverstein Teacher Resources file" 2) one of his most famous children's books is The Giving Tree. Silverstein says "It's just a relationship between two people, one gives and the other takes."(Lingerman, 1) But according to critics the tree and the boy in Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree can represent different things. Some critics believe they can represent a mother's love and a child. Others say they can represent a selfless female and a selfish male. While others believe they can represent God and a person.

"The giving tree, identified as female, is an image of mother love. She loves the boy selflessly and unconditionally, because he is her own." (May, et. al., 12) Most critics would agree. Just like a mother would her son, the tree nurtures and takes care of the boy from when he is young and just wanting a friend, to the time when he is old and just wants a place to sit down. The tree tries to give the boy everything he wants and needs, whether it's a place to play, apples to make money, a house so he can start a family, a boat so he can sail around the world, or just a place to sit and rest. Like any

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other child in the world the boy never thinks to say "thank you" or what the tree might need. Some critics like Marc Gellman even go so far as to say the boy is a spoiled child raised by a parent who can not say no. (4)

"By choosing the female pronoun for the all-giving tree and the male pronoun for the all-taking boy... little boys and girls who read The Giving Tree will encounter this glorification of female selflessness and male selfishness." ("Shel Silverstein Biography" 2) Through out the story the boy gathers up her leafs, climbs up her trunk, swings from her branches, sleeps in her shade, gathers her apples, cuts down her branches and trunk while never having to give anything in return. Some people are unhappy with The Giving Tree because it teaches children that women should



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