What The Giving Tree Did For Me

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade August 2001

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The book that has influenced me the most is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Its effects taught me an important lesson about life, and showed me how to be a better person. Without this book my mentality and behavior would most likely not be the same. My actions would probably be selfish and people would obviously dislike me. This book gave me the tools to get ahead in life and get along with people.

First hearing the story in my youth, it instantly became my favorite book. Throughout my childhood the story was frequently read to me, my little mind never realized its true meaning until about the age of twelve. Growing older, more sophisticated, and more analytical the story's symbolic illustration of life and human ethics became apparent to me. Shel Silverstein's point of writing the story wasn't what once my immature mind perceived. He was metaphorically and symbolically revealing the truism that happiness is obtained easily by the act of giving and selfless behavior.

The story is about a young boy and his relationship with a tree. The tree supports him through life, giving him all she can. From beginning to end the tree gives the boy everything he needs to be "happy". In every stage of his life the tree furnishes him with what she can, even if she is left with "nothing". Whether material or affectionate she devotes herself to ensuring his well being and tending to his needs.

By the end of the story, clearly seen is the fact that the tree is happy, and the boy is not. The boy sought happiness in worldly things, and the tree considered her needs last and worried about making others happy. It was the tree that had the happiness and the boy had who had nothing. Physically the boy did have more but inside the boy felt empty and the tree felt fulfilled. Considering the tree's mind set and the boy's, it is obvious which is key to a happy life.

Understanding that truth, my life has been lived keeping that lesson close in mind. These principals are qualified over and over in every situation where my actions are of generosity and simply thinking of others. It feels better to know that my effort, great or small has made someone else happy. People generally like and accept a generous person over a self-seeking one. It is the giver who gets exulted and is then respected. Because my actions aren't always based on my desires I have more; more of what truly counts in life.

Believing that happiness is all that really matters in life, The Giving Tree gives a good example for me to base my actions on. By following the book's example happiness is guaranteed for me. Whether I'm addressing the pope or addressing a garbage man equal respect is given. To get ahead in life being well liked by people is vital and for my good actions success is probable. There are two roads to take in life, one of selfishness and one of selflessness, one of worldly things and one consideration of others, my choice selflessness; the way to get me to the top.

It might sound crazy that a children's book has had so much bearing on my life, and that my happiness is stemmed from a story about a boy and a tree. My happiness is obtained because of it, knowing my life will be better living by the example of the tree is enough for me to want to give my self to those in need. Truly this book influenced me more then anyone could ever conceive, and someday my success will prove it.