The Education of Little Tree, is a novel which is splendidly composed story—which depicts the lifestyle of a Native American kinsfolk—experienced by an orphaned 5 year-old boy in the Appalachian Mountains.
How would you describe Little Tree’s voice, perspective, and attitude? How does he view himself, others, and life in general?
Little Tree’s voice is in the first person, which is a very interesting way or which drives the story really well. Using the first person as the narration of the story gives us a very vivid picture in our minds of how the ten-year-old Cherokee boy, as he recounts his memories and experiences as he is growing up. While reading the novel, it is as if you are reading a journal of a ten-year-old kid. The novel is somewhat like the Diary of Helen Keller, in which is also spoken in the first person. And because of which, it is like we are taken to the time it has been happening
His perspective of everything he sees, especially being raised by Cherokee grandparents, is that nature is talking to him and that they are sending some kind of warmth, or sometimes message to him. And, as mentioned, since his parents are of Cherokee ancestry, they firmly believe that nature is trying to connect with people as well.
What key difference did you find between the novel and the film? How do these differences impact the story and your understanding and appreciation of it?
Because of my fondness of reading, I find reading the novel more interesting than that of watching the movie. When reading a novel, you tend to form your own images of what is being described. You picture your own scene and create your own interpretation on how each of the characters, scenes, or events appears as stated in the novel. And since everyone has their own imagination, the novel would probably be perceived in different ways between individuals. One may be thinking it means one thing, while the other things otherwise.
By reading the movie, it is as if you are entering the imagination of the director. You see how they have formed their own picture. There then tends to be a comparison between how you have perceived it from the way to movie has been executed. There may be times that you have very similar ideas on how it really is being described, but probably most of the time, it would be totally different, and you tend to criticize the movie a lot.
By this difference, it affects greatly in your understanding of the story. In movies, a lot of parts may be left out to fit the whole story fit into a shorter time whereas while reading it, you get to absorb every bit of detail and idea of the novel. You get to understand it more when you read through every element of the novel. In the movie, there are times when you won’t understand it at all, because it is possible that the part the director cut out is a very important role in the novel. So I would say that reading the novel would help me better understand the meaning the novel wishes to portray.
What sense of place does the novel portray? What importance do the mountains and the natural world assume? What is the significance of the secret place?
In my opinion, the sense of place the novel portrays is peace. It is clearly stated in the first chapter of the book. The description of the mountains, cabin, trees, grass, animals, moon, and everything about nature gives a very stunning feeling of peace. When we are around nature, away from the cities and tall buildings, it is as if we are very relieved and relaxed. And, with how Little Tree describes it, it’s as if nature is talking to him, making him feel warm and welcome. And this is also very common in the real world. When we are closer to nature, it is as if we are in such a peaceful place. Even without much people around, just the trees and animals around you will keep you company, as if whispering something very soothing to you to relax your mind.
Carter, F. (2001). The Education of Little Tree. New York: University of New Mexico.