Black Walnut Tree Mary Oliver Summary

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In Mary Oliver’s “Black Walnut Tree,” the poet illustrates the mother and daughter’s dispute in determining whether or not to sell a family tree to relieve their increasing mortgage. Oliver employs diction to explain their family’s difficult predicament and then shifts, using personification to explain the deeper meaning of the black walnut tree- their family ancestry and their fathers’ strenuous labor. Although their debt continues to drag on, selling the tree would be a disgraceful deed to past ancestors. The narrator’s diction demonstrates the mother and daughters deep attachment to the tree. Although “Likely some storm anyway will churn down its dark boughs, smashing down the house,” and there are “Roots in the cellar drains” thus destroying

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