The Giving Tree

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The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein begins with a little boy and a tree. Throughout the story, the boy and the tree grow up together, and the reader witnesses the relationship between the two. According to the Psychoanalytic Theory, there are three parts to the subconscious, which are the id, the superego, and the ego. All three of these parts eventually reveal themselves within characters of a given story. The id is the basic desire or “inner child”, while the superego is the complete opposite and relies utterly on socially imposed behavior. The ego on the other hand, is the balance between the two. Throughout the novel, all three parts of the subconscious are revealed through the little boy, and reveal much about society, in addition to the…show more content…
In the exposition of the novel, the tree, who is a female, and little boy are introduced with the boy being a small child. The quotation, “...everyday the boy would come and he would gather her leaves and make them into crowns and play king of the forest,” (Silverstein 1) shows how the boy simply desires to play on the tree in order to be happy. This is the id, which consists of the basic desire to have something to do and be joyful. Soon, the boy progresses to the superego, as he grows up and demands a means of building a family when he says, “I want a house to keep me warm...I want a wife and I want children, so I need a house” (Silverstein 1). In society, it is common to own a house, and have a wife and kids. In fact, it can be unusual not to have a family when someone is a certain age. In this way, the boy is coming to the tree in the superego state of mind, as he finds it necessary to abide by social norms. By the conclusion of the novel, the boy, who has become an old man, simply wants to sit and rest on what’s left of the tree in the quotation, “‘I don’t need very much now,’ said the boy. ‘just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired’” (Silverstein 2). At this phase the boy represents the ego, since he is in need of a solution to his immediate desire (id), yet he wants nothing more than what is commonly accepted (superego). This balance…show more content…
In the quotation, “...when he came back, the tree was so happy she could hardly speak…‘Cut down my trunk and make a boat,...then you can sail away...and be happy’” (Silverstein 2), the tree is only satisfied when she can give something to the boy to make him happy. A parallel can be drawn between this and how many cultures believe women should behave in society. They believe that women should give and care for the men and children. In turn, this relates to the boy, and how he consistently takes from the tree, and is nurtured by her. It can be seen that the superego is prevalent throughout the story in this way, because society pressures women to give to others and not take for themselves. Moreover, when the boy states, “‘I want a wife and I want children’” (Silverstein 1), he is talking about them like a commodity and necessity, not as if he desires love and

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