The Education of Little Tree tells the tale of a young boy during the depression. When his mother dies one year after his father, Little Tree goes to live with is grandparents in the 1930s. “I sat in the middle between Granma and Granpa, and Granma reached across and patted Granpa on the hand, and he held her hand across my lap”. From the very beginning, we see that these two people will illustrate many sides to Little Tree throughout the story.
Although his grandparents have portions of the ancestry in common, the two treat Little Tree very differently. Their ideas of how the boy should be treated are as different as salt and pepper.
The first such difference is shown in how the boy should be treated when they pick him up. On At the funeral, Granpa says, “Leave him be,” when everyone is touching and holding Little Tree. They are expecting him to need comfort, to feel lost since he is now alone.
Granpa’s simple words show he thinks the boy should left to feel what he feels, and not be coddled. Granma, on the other hand, seems to feel differently. When they get home and Little Tree lies down on his bed he recalls, “A hand brushed my head. It was Granma sitting beside me, on the floor; her skirts around her”. We see Granma feels Little Tree should be babied, at least a little bit. He has after all just lost his mother, and she is now to fill that role.
When the grandparents speak to Little tree about the things in their lives, we can see they each find certain things important. Granma talks to Little Tree about life, death, and tradition. At one point, she is talking to Little Tree about Cherokee secret places and about the dead people they see every day. “Granma said everyone has to minds. One of the minds has to do with the necessaries for body livingюBut she said we had another mind that had nothing atall to do with such. She said it was the spirit mind”. She tells him of spiritual stories and feeds his imagination. Granpa, on the other hand, shares grounded stories, stories of whiskey. “I seen right off that me and Granpa had a fight on our hand…but I was proud that Granpa had taken me in to learn a trade,” 966).
As a final example, we can see the difference when Little Tree is going off to the white school. Granpa cuts Little Trees hair in practical response. “He says it was necessary, for it might be hard on me, looking like an Indian and all”. Granma, on the other hand, refuses to be so flippant about the situation. “Grandma would not go to the settlement for the leaving”. She speaks briefly to Little Tree, reminding him to watch for the Dog Star, but she is said for him to leave.
In the end, the two grandparents both care for Little Tree and are trying to guide him into adulthood, accepting both worlds he must live in as a mixed-blood Indian. With each having their own views on life, their guidance takes many directions, leaving Little Tree with an open-ended story to live in the end.
- Carter, Forrest. The Education of Little tree. New York, NY: Delacorte Press, 1986.
Cite this The Education of Little Tree
The Education of Little Tree. (2016, Sep 07). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-education-of-little-tree/