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Sara Silva “The Black Walnut Tree” conveys an absent of a fatherly figure and Oliver utilizes family biased imagery, morbid personification and an environmental symbolism to persuade the reader that a difficult discussion to let something go could affect your future for better or worse. Family biased imagery is conveyed in the poem by having Oliver represent the father by having The Black Walnut Tree symbolize there absence of a fatherly figure. “My mother and I debate: we could sell the black walnut tree to the lumberman, and pay off the mortgage.” The symbolism here is that the father usually pays for all the bills so the rest of them don’t have to worry about having the pressure of being responsible. But if they sell the tree they are selling their father symbolically. But if they don’t they are keeping the father in the family but can’t keep up with their mortgage. Morbid personification is utilized when Oliver portrays “But something brighter than money moves in our blood-an edge sharp and quick as a trowel that wants us to dig and sow.” Meaning that the tree can be more useful than having the money because the fact that the father is still with him is worth than having money. The father is what stays through their veins. Environmental symbolism is taken place multiple times throughout the story by having their father represent the tree. As the tree grows the family grows with them. “That night I dream of my fathers out of Bohemia filling the blue fields of fresh and generous Ohio with leaves and vines and orchards.” The imagery utilized here is the beauty of having nature and the beauty of the circle of life having a person here physically then having a person here symbolically.
Raegen DaSilvaMary Oliver uses the image of the Walnut tree as a representation of a being more important that money or material items. She says how if they sold the tree that they could pay off a mortgage or to get more money. However, she states, “But something brighter than money moves in our blood-an edge sharp and quick as a trowel that wants us to dig and sow”. This could represent her heritage and everything that her family has gone through. She says how the roots are in the cellar drains. This could represent the long history that the family has with the tree and the fact that the tree has been a part of the family home for many years. The whole poem is a metaphor of her life and how there are always going to be struggles but that does not mean that you can just sell who you are or a part of your family to fix them. She also states, “That night I dream of my father’s out of Bohemia filling the blue fields of fresh and generous Ohiowith leaves and vines and orchards”. This is her talking about her father and the hard work that he put in the house. Assuming that he has since passed away, the tree could also represent his existence. The tree being rooted into the house could mean the same as the hard work that the father had put into the house and the memory of him. As a whole, the poem is a symbol for Mary Oliver’s life and the home she grew up in and how much meaning their home has to them, even the dangerous and threatening aspects of it.
Nate BarretteShifting from a heated argument to a persuasive decision the author Mary Oliver utilizes a great understanding of how the tree has represented the family throughout the years. The tree has been the structure of the family for a long time, producing food and joy to the family. They could sell the tree to pay for their mortgage but they know that if they do they would regret it. The tree represents the structure and the future of the family. The bond that this family has with this tree is like no other. There is a dramatic shift in the middle of this poem. It goes from being a very tense and ungrateful start to a mellow and satisfying ending. Mary Oliver starts The Black Walnut Tree with a overwhelming sense of fighting and distress but slowly throughout the poem utilizes the surroundings to make the mood very calm. The family needs the money to pay for their mortgage. They know that the tree could bring them in some money but in the end they decide that the tree is worth more in their hearts and they have cherished the black walnut tree for a long time and do not want to let it go like this. The family would risk the house been crushed by it in a wind storm to kindle their love for the tree. This tree symbolizes their family starting from the roots and building up to the top. If the family were to get rid of the tree it would be a strike to the hearts of every single one of the family members. There is more to the tree than its fruits. It has the love of the father that has seemed to pass on. If they got rid they would be ashamed of themselves. The moral value of the tree is worth more than money.
In the poem, "The Black Walnut Tree" by Mary Oliver, the dilemma of mortgage payments and the dilemma of the large walnut tree that grows distressingly close to the speaker's house create a representation of the stress that being a homeowner brings. The tree and the mortgage are made as one entity through symbolic language, and then the tree is made into another symbol by its destruction and the speaker's despair over her situation.The symbolic language surrounding the titular tree and the mortgage the speaker and her mother deal with is shown through the potential danger the large tree, which grows distressingly close to the speaker's house, poses to the structure, and the mortgage that threatens to force its owners out. The roots of the tree creep into the cellar, just as the stress of payments dominates the speaker's life. The tree itself is described as looming dangerously close to the house, so close that "Likely some storm anyway / will churn down its dark boughs / smashing the house..."; the same could be said of the mortgage payments that loom over the heads of the speaker and her mother. The poem's plot surrounds the speaker's plan to sell the tree as lumber and have it chopped down to pay off the mortgage. In this way, the tree gains a duality in its symbolism, and becomes a symbolism of the natural world that is destroyed by a modern society driven by a desperate need to get money to pay for the expenses of life. Its leaves are described as heavy, and its fruit as "hard... to gather", which perhaps represents the money that the speaker so desperately needs.Near to the poem's end, the night after the speaker and her mother discuss the selling of the tree, the speaker dreams of her ancestors farming the "fresh and generous Ohio", a representation of her wish to escape the money-driven society that forces her to do such desperate things to pay her bills, and return to the farming that once kept her family afloat. The speaker and her mother are both so moved by the idea of the loss of the beloved tree for a mortgage payment that they do not have it chopped down, and the desperation they live in most likely continues. The line that implies the speaker's shame also implies that her mother is a widow, which is why their financial troubles exist, and that the walnut tree may be connected to him in some way, which is why that the speaker cannot bear to part with the walnut tree.Using a powerful duality in symbolism, and metaphors of grand scope accessible from any view on the text, "The Black Walnut Tree", by Mary Oliver, is an interesting exploration of the hardships and desperation that financial loss brings, and the natural world that suffers from our modern society's hunt for monetary gain.
Bob Anderson6/7/13Period: EPoem Analysis Mary Oliver conveys the relationship of “The Black Walnut Tree” and a family by utilizing figurative language, naturalistic imagery, and a relatable theme in order to encapsulate the reader and show the immense strength of a family that struggles with “the whip-crack of the mortgage”. Mary Oliver describes a families values by using figurative language. She describes the Walnut tree as a strong symbol of the families resolve, struggling with each year of storms, sun, and wind. While the tree struggles with natural problems the family struggles with those of a mortgage. She describes the tree as having “Roots in the cellar drains”, similar to that of the family who have roots in Ohio. Through her use of figurative language she accurately describes the strength of the family, like that of “The Black Walnut Tree”.Mary Oliver utilizes natural imagery to create the scene of struggling family with a deep resolve. “So the black walnut trees swings through another year of sun and leaping winds, of leaves and bounding fruit, and, month after month, the whip-crack of the mortgage”. Like the tree “swings through another year” so does the family.During this day in age most families are struggling under “the whip-crack of the mortgage” and Mary Oliver utilizes this relatable theme. She is depicting an American family undergoing hardships but yet surviving “another year”.
Andrew MorsePeriod: E6/7/13Shifting from hopeful dreams to bitter reality in “The Black Walnut Tree” Oliver utilizes ominous imagery and naturalistic metaphor to convey their love for their lost loved one. The poem’s imagery makes the tree out to be an entity all its own. It carries their last memories of the lost father but is also presenting a danger to the house, literally and figuratively. The tree is said that it “will churn down its dark boughs, smashing the house”. This can be interpreted literally as a large tree could potentially damage a house if it fell on it. The author could mean that them clinging on to the memories within the tree rather than selling it is putting a financial strain on the mother and daughter. The father must have been the breadwinner because without him the remains of the family are struggling to survive under the mortgage while keeping the tree. Oliver uses a metaphor regarding the tree “the leaves are getting heavier every year, and the fruit harder to gather” She is saying how the tree is like their financial situation because as time goes on it gets more and more out of control and slowly overwhelms and crushes them. The loss of the father placed a heavy emotional and financial strain upon the family whom he left.
Symbolizing the memories of the father in “The Black Walnut Tree,” Mary Oliver utilizes an old black walnut tree in the yard of a daughter and mother’s house to display how empty they would feel without the memories of their deceased father and husband through figurative language and decisions they make as a family. Some of the figurative language utilized by Oliver includes imagery, metaphors, and similes. Some imagery used is to describe this old tree that symbolizes the memories of the speaker’s father. It is described as “swinging through another year of sun and leaping winds.” Some metaphors used are to convey the hardships that the speaker and her mother are going through concerning money. The mortgage is compared to having a whip-crack because it is so difficult for the two women to afford it every month. Similes are also used to describe how the two women could never get rid of the tree. They always talk about getting rid of the tree, but when they think about the deceased father, “an edge sharp and quick as a trowel” changes their minds. All of the figurative language used by Oliver aids in developing the black walnut tree as a symbol for the deceased father. The decisions made by the speaker and her mother greatly display how empty they feel without the father and how they want to hold onto their memories of him. The speaker explains that both of the women know that they would “crawl with shame in the emptiness” they would have made in their yard with the cut down tree. This is because they feel like the tree is that last object they have to remind themselves about the father. They decide to struggle paying the mortgage rather than sell the tree because the tree represents the family’s growth and memories that they share, and they do not want to lose that.
Brad WryIn the poem “The Black Walnut Tree” by Mary Oliver uses strong similes, meaningful metaphors along with figurative language to show how a family has struggled to overcome the economical influences in their life while also coping with the death of their husband/farther by relating this to a Walnut tree they have in their backyard. The mother and daughter debate different ideas of how they can afford the mortgage and have a place to live. The personal struggle of the mother shows. She has lost her husband who has provided for her family and now that he has passed she needs to figure out a way to provide for her daughter. “My mother and I debate: we could sell the black walnut tree to the lumberman, and pay off the mortgage.” Selling the tree has always been an option to help pay off the mortgage but year after year the tree makes it through along with the family.” So the black walnut tree swings through another year of sun and leaping winds, of leaves and bounding fruit, and, month after month, the whip-crack of the mortgage.” The tree lives through another year but the family knows that the mortgage still hangs over their heads. Losing the tree has more of a sentimental value to them more then the need to pay off the mortgage. The relationship between the mother and daughter is very strong and throughout the poem the readers can make connections that show what the walnut tree meant to them. The Walnut tree represented the farther and husband of the family. Metaphors and similes are used through out to shows this relationship and their struggle.”That the leaves are getting heavier every year, and the fruit harder to gather away.” The struggles to survive which are represented by the leaves get heavier to withstand and get through. “But something brighter than money moves in our blood-an edge sharp and quick as a trowel that wants us to dig and sow.” Money to them is much less important to them then the nature and the deeper meaning behind the Walnut tree to them. “What my mother and I both know is that we'd crawl with shame in the emptiness we'd made in our own and our fathers' backyard.”Both mother and daughter rather suffer through life trying to pay off the mortgage then lose the Walnut tree the means more than money ever could due to the fact it represents a strong lost relationship. It shows the personal struggle and fight this family has in them and will always have to keep the “Walnut Tree”.
Erin KennedyThe Black Walnut Tree by Mary Oliver Representing the memory of the father, the black walnut tree symbolizes a family decision to sell the tree to survive or carry on the memory of the father. Mary Oliver utilizes symbolism and profound description to examine the choice the family faces and explain their dilemma in choosing to sell or keep the black walnut tree.The tree represents the soul of the father; he lives on in the backyard. The mother and daughter, struggling to “pay off the mortgage,” are faced with the choice to sell the tree “to the lumberman” and “crawl with shame and in the emptiness” of the backyard, or continue the memory and love for the father by letting the tree remain to “swing through another year of sun and leaping winds, of leaves and bounding fruit.” Throughout the day, the tree whips against the sides of the house, representing the “whip-crack of the mortgage” leaving a constant reminder of the lack of money to the family. Oliver uses the possibility of a storm churning down the dark boughs of the tree as the potential “smashing of the house” to convey the thought that the tree may get destroyed anyways; adding to the difficult choice for the mother and daughter. The mother and daughter are desperate for money to pay for their mortgage; however, “something brighter than money” leaves them wanting to keep the black walnut tree in their yard. The mother and daughter are “trying in a difficult time to wise,” but continually face the decision of selling or keeping the black walnut tree.The black walnut tree symbolizes the remembrance of the father. The family is faced with the difficult choice of keeping his soul alive or keeping their family alive in their home. The family must be wise with their choice choose how to approach their decision.
Brooke KoronaMorbid personification, illusive imagery, and emotional symbolism are used in the poem The Black Walnut Tree to convey Mary Oliver’s message of the importance of keeping memories alive. The use of personification is utilized when expressing the pain that getting rid of the tree would embark upon the family. “But something brighter than money moves in our blood” and “We’d crawl with shame” are prime examples of this usage. The imagery that is portrayed helps in embracing the life of the family left behind. With examples like “the blue fields” and picturing the Walnut Tree itself makes you feel like you may understand. The symbolism used throughout the book may be the most important tool. The symbolism causes the emotion to take over. The symbolism of the tree representing the estranged father is quite brilliant. With the family facing the dilemma of whether or not to rubbish the tree for other benefits or to keep it and the sentimentality it sustains.
Connor Lynch 6-7-13 English E Poem Analysis Shifting from a panicked moment of despair to an impulsive financial decision, Mary Oliver conveys through a less-knowledgeable point of view, an overpowering imagery, and a familial metaphor the relationship between the poem’s black walnut tree and family. The point of view in “The Black Walnut Tree” is from a young woman being raised now only by her mother, and they are both in a state of worry with a looming mortgage over them. These two women, from a time period more dominated by men, are unsure as to what they should do with the tree on their property, as it could provide them with funds. However, this tree is the last memory of a loved one and, despite its potential wealth and destructive properties, they decide to keep it. The imagery of the tree shows it as an ominous entity, causing problems in places like the cellar and producing less fruit every year. It is as if the tree is the late man of the family telling them to sell it off. They, however, do not want to let him, and consequently, it, go. They decide to keep the tree, as they deem its sentimental worth greater than its material worth, further showing their idealistic morals.
Shifting back and forth from the relationship with a tree and the relationship with family, Mary Oliver in her poem, “The Black Walnut Tree,” focuses on conveying the idea that something as ordinary as a tree can hold traditional value which creates strength in a moment of weakness, through the use of symbolic metaphors and a hopeless reflective tone. Mary Oliver portrays a story of an economically troubled family but tells the story through the use of a simple tree that holds with it great value. When the discussion declares that “Likely some storm anyway” will come it refers to the mother and daughters negative view of life; they expect a storm to come because throughout their life they have constantly fought through battle after battle of their fair share of economically driven storm. Furthermore, when they say that “Roots in the cellar drains,” they are ultimately referring to their own strength; they have fought this battle of money for so long and the roots of their strength dwindle. Likewise, when they say “leaves are getting heavier,” they are referring to their problems; their debt is growing bigger and their need for money escalates with it. However, as the conversation continues, the mother and daughter remember the significance of “The Black Walnut Tree;” this ordinary tree is the root of their family and grows the strength that they need in their moment of weakness. In conclusion, the mother and daughter brush aside their economically driven struggles another year and rather than selling their tree to rid themselves of financial struggle, they decide to appreciate the value of it for another year because unlike their financial struggle, this tree has provided them with the strength to push on and accept their traditional values over their potential wealth.
Michael ReadyClass E6-7-13Poem analysis Shifting from the hardship and economic struggle of everyday life to a strong appreciation of family traditional value Mary Oliver highlights the importance of tradition over achieving individual affluence in “The Black Walnut Tree”. The poem contains a powerful message that would allow a mother and daughter to gain wealth by cutting down a black walnut tree in their yard. “we could sell the black walnut tree to the lumberman, and pay off the mortgage.” The tree in the yard presents the family to climb out of their financial struggle and live comfortably. However the mother and daughter are torn between opportunity to cash in, or to leave the tree in the yard and stick to their roots and family tradition. The daughter who at the beginning of the poem wanted to sell the tree to get out of the financial struggle then contradicts her ideas at the end of the poem “What my mother and I both know is that we’d crawl with shame in the emptiness we’d made”. The tree does not just symbolize opportunity in this particular poem for the family, but also the tradition and memories that the family has experienced with it. In the end both the mother and daughter decide to make the moral decision of keeping the tree in the yard “So the black walnut tree swings through another year of sun and leaping winds, of leaves and bounding fruit, and, month after month, the whip-crack of the mortgage.” The mother and daughter wished that they could pay off their mortgage however when it finally came down to the final decision they ultimately could not cut down the memories and tradition that the black walnut tree stood for. Mary Oliver concludes the poem with the idea that true wealth and happiness is actually the memories that you share with your family, and the strength of tradition.
Rachael ClarkIn the poem, “The Black Walnut Tree”, Mary Oliver utilizes morbid personification, alluring imagery, and naturalistic symbolism to show that the speaker and his mom are able to get through everything together. Morbid personification shows that the speaker was not very fond of where he lived. His mom and he would “crawl with shame in the emptiness we’d made in our own and our father’s backyard”. They did not find this appealing at. The speaker wanted his dad to be there and he did not want to deal with his dad’s shame and emptiness. The alluring imagery is showing that what the speakers dreams about. The speaker is dreaming about “filling the blue fields of fresh and generous Ohio with leaves and vines and orchards.” This is where he is dreaming is father is. The walnut tree “swings through another year of sun.” This shows that what every the speaker and his mother are going through they are going to be able to do it. The walnut tree is able to live through the years. The naturalistic symbolism is the symbolism of their lives. This is how they are able to live their lives. The speaker and his mother “debate; we could sell the black walnut tree to the lumberman, and pay off the mortgage”. It also symbolizes the nature that the speaker lives in. The speaker loves to be in nature and it reminds the speaker of his father. The nature is the struggle that the speaker and his mother go through and how they will be able to get through it.
Shifting from an apparent resolution, to an uneasy decision to preserve the walnut tree in “Black Walnut Tree”, Mary Oliver utilizes effective enjambment and symbolic imagery to reveal the importance of family tradition and upholding of ancestral respect. Oliver begins with the option of taking out the black walnut tree in the speaker’s yard. She structures the poem in such a way that the first half leads the audience to believe it is an almost unanimous decision to remove the tree. Half way through, the poem significantly shifts. Oliver states,” But something brighter than money moves in our blood-an edge sharp and quick as a trowel that wants us to dig and sow. So we talk, but we don't do anything.” This shift in the outlook of the speaker conveys the hesitancy to the loss of the walnut tree, as the speaker later alludes to the importance of the walnut tree to their family. The tree represents the history ancestry of the family as well as the preservation of the family through difficult times. Although the tree has weathered many storms, it is still standing. The use of imagery portrays the black walnut tree as an emerging symbol in the poem. The tree becomes an important symbol of the family’s perseverance through difficult times, just as the walnut tree persists through the rough weather and inevitable aging.
Sarah Ready -->thesisShifting back and forth from the relationship with a tree and the relationship with family, Mary Oliver in her poem, “The Black Walnut Tree,” focuses on conveying the idea that something as ordinary as a tree can hold traditional value which creates strength in a moment of weakness, through the use of symbolic metaphors and a hopeless reflective tone.
In the poem, “The Black Walnut Tree”, Mary Oliver forms a relationship between a family and a tree by using imagery, characterization, and metaphors, to introduce an idea that a tree is like life. The poem introduces a poor family who has lost the father of their household. Oliver states, “we could sell the black walnut tree to the lumberman, and pay off the mortgage.”, by using imagery, this explains that the family is not wealthy and are now seeing the tree as an opportunity to gain money to save their house. Their relationship that is formed starts out well between the mother and daughter, which could be a metaphor of life. This shows that life gives out opportunities to everyone no matter who they are. The poet also explains, that “the leaves are getting heavier every year, and the fruit harder to gather away.”, which proves that life is hard and many times one needs money to stay alive. Since the mother and daughter did not sell the tree or get more money their lives began to get harder due to the lack of money and opportunities to save the house. The tree represents the struggles the family takes on because although life does give one opportunities to make it better, it also makes many people struggle. Oliver then introduces the idea no matter what life does not stop, by stating “swings through another year of sun and leaping winds, of leaves and bounding fruit,and, month after month, the whip-crack of the mortgage.” In these lines the author uses imagery to show the idea that like the tree, life goes on. The mother and daughter both see there's an opportunity in their hands if they were to sell the tree, although it seems like their relationship is bittersweet and they cannot sell the tree even if it risks their lives because it is so close to the house. Once again the relationship between the people and the tree is a metaphor to life because in life one must take chances. The family does this when they decide to keep the tree. The family keeps the tree, but the girl has a dream that her “fathers out of Bohemia filling the blue fields of fresh and generous Ohio with leaves and vines and orchards.”, this could convey the idea that they wish to live this life and the relationship between the family and tree is not fulfilling enough to the family because it has not given them the life that an orchard could. Mary Oliver introduces a relationship between a family and a tree in the poem, “The Black Walnut Tree”. She forms a relationship that seems good at the beginning but shifts to be more bitter by the end. Oliver uses imagery to characterize the tree and people. She also conveys the idea that the relationship between the tree and the people is really just a metaphor for life. Taylor Silver
Nicole Kiley The Black Walnut Tree Analysis In Mary Oliver’s poem, The Black Walnut Tree, Oliver conveys the relationship between a tree and family values through the use of symbolism and family decisions. The black walnut tree symbolizes the speaker’s father in this poem. The love they had for their loved one is shown in this tree. Mary Oliver says, “Likely some storm anyway will churn down its dark boughs, smashing the house” Ironically, the tree they are debating about selling to pay off their house is also the same tree that could demolish their house. They should sell the tree because of the danger it could cause to them, but they can’t because it represents to them the love of their father. Their loved one to them is “brighter than money” and the tree has more value to them than paying off their mortgage. Without the tree, the two women would feel “shame in the emptiness we’d made in our own and our fathers’ backyard”. They couldn’t live with the loneliness and dishonor of selling the tree; it meant too much to them. Mary Oliver says, “Roots in the cellar drains, I say, and she replies that the leaves are getting heavier every year, and the fruit harder to gather away.” Though it is difficult to maintain, the tree represents to them the love and memory of their father and husband. The speaker and her mother are faced with the decision of paying off their mortgage by selling the tree, or keeping the tree in memory of their loved one. It’s a “difficult time” for them and the decision they have to make. In the end the memory of the father overpowers the need for money to pay off the mortgage on the house. Mary Oliver says, “So the black walnut tree swings through another year of sun and leaping winds, of leaves and bounding fruit, and, month after month, the whip-crack of the mortgage.” The tree stays and so does the burden of the mortgage. In the end, family meant more to them than the money owed on their house.
Katie GermanoIn the poem The Black Walnut Tree, Mary Oliver utilizes depressing imagery and symbolism to convey the metaphor of the tree as the struggles that the 2 woman family is facing after the death of the speakers father. The tree is getting very big and old according to the speaker. It is very heavy and ready to break. It lingers alone over the house, and continues to grow with struggles and unhealthy. Like the tree, the family is growing with struggles day by day. Every year “the leaves get heavier… and the fruit harder to gather away” like the mortgage is getting harder to pay off. The speaker says that it is likely that the tree will fall during a storm because it is weak, just like the family is weak with money and is close to falling apart after the father’s death. The speaker and her mother talk about selling the tree to the lumberman to have money that pays for the mortgage. Although both agree that it is a good idea, the tree never gets cut down and sold. Perhaps the tree symbolizes the spirit of the father and the two women do not want to cut it down, and instead face the struggles of finding money to pay the mortgage. The speaker conveys the metaphor of the tree as being the hard times that her family goes through since the death of her father. Although the family could cut down the tree to pay off the mortgage that they are struggling with, they keep the big black walnut tree and the spirit of their father with them. Consequently the family deals with the dangers of the tree falling and “smashing the house” and also the “the whip-crack of the mortgage” every month.
Throughout Mary Olivier’s poem, “The Black Walnut Tree”, there is a continued use of direct symbolism, ebullient imagery, and descriptive metaphors. When the speaker of the poem talks about the tree it is clear the tree symbolizes something greater. When stating “That night I dream of my fathers out of Bohemia filling the blue fields of fresh and generous Ohio with leaves and vines and orchards. What my mother and I both know is that we'd crawl with shame in the emptiness we'd made in our own and our fathers' backyard.” It describes how even though they want and need to cut down the tree they can’t because it represents the speaker’s father. Cutting down this tree would ultimately “kill” the spirit of the father. Even though the family is struggling without him they can’t seem to take away such a beautiful burden. The tree is getting harder to maintain, meaning it is getting harder for the family to live without their father and husband. When the speaker says, “We talk slowly, two women trying in a difficult time to be wise.” They want to really think this decision through. If they think too fast they know that they could regret it. In such a difficult time, they want to make the right decision. Imagery plays an important role in this poem. The reader is able to really gather how this tree looks and how the family feels. By using imagery, the reader is able to connect with the poem. Not only does this poem show the struggles with losing a loved one, it also shows the beauty of having so much love for important things in life. Referring to the inner feelings of the family, “But something brighter than money moves in our blood-an edge sharp and quick as a trowel that wants us to dig and sow.” This highlights how both the family member know that money isn’t as big as a problem. They do need the tree in order to be happy and survive. Using descriptive words such as “blood-an edge sharp and quick” it give the reader the sense that this is tree has a hard impact on the family and their feelings.
The Black Walnut Tree Analysis Shifting from an intellectual debate to a joint agreement Mary Oliver, in “The Black Walnut Tree,” utilizes a familial allusion, ebullient personification, and a prideful point of view to convey the diverse relationship that the family and the walnut tree share. The poet utilizes a familial allusion in this poem to serve as a sort of shift from a debate, to a collective concurrence. The speaker in the poem has a dream one night, whilst in the debate, that helps her realize the destiny of the tree. She realizes that her and her mother would “crawl in shame” if they were to cut the tree that their ancestors have been trying to grow out in Ohio. Throughout this hard time the walnut tree is the only thing that still stands tall, and to cut it would only lead to more misery and “emptiness.”This familial allusion helps the tree, to this day, “[swing] through another year” and though leaving the family in debt; the tree is helping by serving as a morale boost for them. Mary Oliver also utilizes ebullient personification throughout this poem to give the walnut tree life-like characteristics. Quite clearly, Oliver does this to portray the tree as another human, and to chop it, or kill it, would be like murdering a part of their family. Oliver says that the black walnut tree “swings through another year,” though swing in this sense is used in a way to describe something that is human. The audience gets the feel that it is an animate object surviving a hard time, much like the family within the poem. Another use of personification that the poet utilizes is the “leaping winds” that surround the trees which makes the wind sound life-like. It seems as if the poet tried to make everything that surrounds the tree and the tree itself sound like another human. She also mentions the “bounding fruit” on the tree that just makes it sound like a beautiful sight to see, even though it may not be all that beautiful. The poet does this to make the tree relatable to people reading this poem. She tries to connect with them illustrating that when the family is going through a rough time, so are the things around the family. It’s almost as if it is a sense of having people, or things (the tree) around you, that helps people get through the tough times like the family in the poem. The last device that the poet uses to convey the relationship between the family and the tree is the point of view of the speaker. The poet makes the speaker talk about the allusion, mentioned previously, which helps bring a solution to the entirety of the debate between the speaker and the mother. Oliver also makes the speaker idolize the tree as something “brighter than money” which helps convey the idea that the tree is there for more than just beauty, but moral support. The poet uses a familial allusion, ebullient personification, and a prideful point of view to convey the idea that the tree stands more towards the role of another person going through a tough time, rather than a thing of beauty.
Ryan BrownPeriod E Shifting from the physical worth of the tree to the metaphorical connection that it represents in “The Black Walnut Tree”, Mary Oliver employs natural imagery, subtle personification and resilient ideals to convey the universal idea that family, and the memories that come with them, are always more important than money and physical possessions. When reading the poem it is hard not to notice all of the details that go along with describing the setting and objects. “Likely some storm anyway will churn down its dark boughs” is simply describing how easily the tree could fall; but instead of saying that, the author uses vivid diction to ensure that the narrative of the poem is focused on the power and beauty of nature. When describing people or actual objects, there is little to no imagery, like simply, “to the lumberman and pay off the mortgage.” There are no extra descriptions of the lumberman, or even anything to make the mortgage seem diluted in some way.
Lauren MacGray In the poem, The Black Walnut Tree, Mary Oliver conveys a relationship between the tree and the family using figurative language of destructive imagery, naturalistic metaphors and symbolism. Mary Oliver portrays that the family is struggling, so the mother and the speaker are debating on whether or not to sell their walnut tree to pay off their mortgage. There are many other reasons why the mother and daughter think it would be a good idea to cut down the tree. It is very likely that the father had passed away so they are trying to make more money so they can live a normal life. While doing this, the figurative language creates a relationship between the tree and the family Destructive imagery is used when describing how the walnut tree is becoming too difficult to take care of. Not only that, but it creates a relationship between the two, “…will churn down its dark boughs,” “Roots in the cellar drains,… the leaves are getting heavier every year, and the fruit harder to gather away.” (The Black Walnut Tree, Mary Oliver). The mother and the daughter are debating on whether they have to cut down the tree because of the economic problems that is has been causing. It is becoming too much to take care of and not only that, but if they sell it, then it only makes it easier for them to pay off their mortgage. The negative imagery portrays a relationship between the tree and the family because just like their life is falling apart, the tree is just as well. Though the relationship may not be the best, the family uses the tree a sense of reliance while trying to maintain a steady life. Naturalistic metaphors are also portrayed when relating the tree to the family. “My mother and I debate: we could sell the black walnut tree to the lumberman, and pay off the mortgage.” “So the black walnut tree swings through another year of sun and leaping winds, of leaves and bounding fruit, and, month after month, the whip-crack of the mortgage. (The Black Walnut Tree, Mary Oliver). The author creates a metaphor between the black walnut tree to paying off their mortgage by saying that the tree is still going through the struggles just like them because it lasts another year, and that is just another year that they go without paying off their mortgage. This portrays a strong relationship between the tree and the family by saying that they are both falling apart. The tree is falling apart just like the family is, so the family is left with relying on the tree. Though they are facing different struggles, they create a reliant relationship. Naturalistic imagery clearly creates a relationship between the tree and the family. Not done.
In “The Black Walnut Tree” Mary Oliver talks of a simple walnut tree that could be used to pay off a lingering burden, the mortgage of the house. Oliver shifts from referring to the tree as a useless piece of nature that could be used for profit, to speaking of the tree as a family heirloom that has been important to her and her mother throughout their stay at this particular property. Oliver doesn’t depict whether the poem conveys a personal experience, or just a simple story but one can assume that this was a personal struggle. Oliver delivers a key message to the readers through symbolism, that the tree means more to her and her mother than paying the mortgage of the house. The tree symbolizes two different things, the mortgage and the families past. In the beginning of the poem Oliver reinforces the convenience that this tree could entirely pay off the mortgage, but instead of just doing it she feels guilty to chop down her father’s tree. She attempts to justify with her mother the reasons for the trees removal. She feels as if the tree may cause damage to the house if it isn’t removed, but the problem becomes will it cause more damage to the family not seeing the tree. The tree in reality symbolizes something “brighter than money”, the tree symbolizes family and heritage. Oliver comes to the realization that the two women would do anything to ensure that their father (and husbands) tree would sway and swing for the next year and years to come, but Oliver ends the poem with the reality that the tree may in fact need to be sold down the line in order to afford the mortgage of the house, she basically refers to the fact that the sale of the tree is inevitable in the future.- Mike Travers
Krista WoodworthMary Oliver Conveys the relationship between the tree and family through the use of figurative language and other poetic techniques such as the use of metaphor and imagery. The Family’s economic challenges are portrayed in the first five lines of the poem when they talk about selling the tree to “pay off the mortgage”, and later mentions that time makes it very difficult to be wise. The mother and daughter say reasons as to why they should cut down the tree and how it would be a good idea.Extended metaphor is utilized by the narrator, which is portrayed to be the daughter, when saying, “something brighter than money moves in our blood—an edge that wants us to dig and sow”. This extends the metaphor of the tree and its roots to the connections that make a family a family. It is stated that a family is meant to be grow bigger, rather than be destroyed. The continuance of the tree defends the exhausting effect of the “whip-crack” of the mortgage. It is shown to the reader that the mother and daughter need one another, just like they need the tree to survive in a time of economic struggle.When describing the aging of the tree, both the mother and daughter use distinct imagery, which creates a clear picture for the reader. The daughter mentions “Roots in the cellar drains” and then shifts to the danger of a storm knocking the brittle tree over into the house. The mother begins to mention that the tree is aging, and that “the leaves are getting heavier”. Both the mother and daughter decide that it is right to keep it, and, “the black walnut tree swings through another year of sun and leaping winds”. The extended metaphor and distinct imagery that is used, shows the reader the importance of the tree and how it symbolizes much more than just an ordinary tree.
Zack SicardFriday, June 7thClass: E Exploring the inner depths of a family at its core, Mary Oliver exemplifies the meaning of harmony between mother and daughter over a morally consuming decision. Each woman must heed the advice of their conscience and will not falter from what they believe is “wise”. This struggling family is trying desperately to do the right thing and endure the “whip-crack of the mortgage”. Money is powerful and attracts many into making choices in its favor but sometimes there is “something brighter than money” and your conscience will force you to make the right decision. In the case of this family the walnut tree brings the mother and daughter closer while boosting their moral. If this “black walnut tree” can withstand “storms [and] leaping winds” then the family can withstand the difficulty of paying the mortgage. If their ancestors could “fill the blue fields of Bohemia with blue fields of fresh generous Ohio leaves vines and orchards” then how couldn’t they at least carry on the tradition with a single tree in their backyard? Mary Oliver has alluded to the power of money, the struggle of a mortgage and the subconscious morally sound decisions one must make in order to feel as if they have done their ancestors right.
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