Although it’s been decades since I read this slim little volume, I still recall many of the illustrations. They were simple black and white drawings, not elaborately colored or detailed, and yet many of the images remain etched in my memory. For instance, I seem to recall that near the end of book when the old man (“boy” who returns to see the tree) is sitting on the tree stump, it is he who is sad almost to the point of looking clinically depressed. Although I can’t recall that the stump’s image portrayed any emotion, I remember it as feeling fine…in fact, happy.
All that to say that perhaps there are more levels to this book than I originally saw (Isn’t that often the case?). Despite a house, a boat, and a business funded by the tree (if I’m remembering correctly) the boy had seemingly failed failed in his quest for happiness and success. The tree, however, was at peace.
I’m thinking that this applies to the human tendency to seek happiness in all the wrong places. Material goods, financial success, and prestige are nothing if we are selfish and greedy. Maybe we could learn some good stuff from Mother Nature and her generosity.