Toni Morrison uses tree imagery throughout her novel “Precious”. For most of the characters in the novel, trees bring both great and bad recollections of their lives. Trees signify the energy from which the characters gain comfort and freedom, yet they also convey the previous traumatic memories of the characters. Morrison frequently utilizes trees as a link it to her ultimate message: the characters’ intractable struggle to cope with their previous although they are now devoid of slavery.
Morrison describes the appeal of trees, which paradoxically reminds the characters of their loss and injuries. In the early start of the novel, Sethe recalls the sights of lynching at the trees: “Young boys hanging from the most lovely sycamores worldwide” (7 ). By juxtaposing the appeal and her bitter memory, Morrison shows how Sethe, as a previous slave, feels rejected of the opportunity to fully delight in the natural scene. To strengthen this idea, Morrison shows the irony once again in “Sweet House had more beautiful trees than any farm around” (25 ). Regardless of the pleasant and peaceful landscape of the plantation, Sethe, Paul D and other characters sustain a really challenging life at Sweet Home.
Using the “chokecherry tree” sign for the scars on Sethe’s back, Morrison assists the reader comprehend and feel sorry for Sethe’s mental scars. Amy metaphorically named the scars on Sethe’s back as the chokecherry tree: “It’s a tree, Lu. A chokecherry tree. Your back got an entire tree on it. In flower” (93 ). Checking out how Amy compares the scars as the trunk, branches and leaves of the chokecherry, we can vividly think of how the scars look like. From that creativity, we can not help however grimace knowing how struggled Sethe needs to have felt when the schoolteacher beat her as though she is an animal. Likewise, having the chokecherry tree on Sethe’s back signifies that her past torments follow Sethe all over she goes. Furthermore, the knowledge that the chokecherry has bitter fruits communicates how she can not emotionally leave from injuries of her past. Moreover, for Amy who has plenty of hope and energy pursuing velour, she can see something charming in such a dreadful stunning sight of scars. Nevertheless, Sethe stops working to see the scars as the method Amy does: “That’s what she called it. I have actually never seen it and never ever will” (18 ). In the same method, Paul D disagrees with Amy’s viewpoint: “in fact a revolting clump of scars. Not a tree as she said. Perhaps shaped like one, however nothing like any tree he knew since trees were inviting” (25 ). Unlike Amy, Sethe and Paul D, who have actually quelched hope in their present lives, can not see the scars as something visual.
Another substantial use of trees appears when Morrison utilizes the metaphor “jungle” to represent the slavery system (234 ). A jungle, comprised of trees, is a house for the wilderness and has undertones of ferment and danger. With this word “jungle,” Morrison depicts how the slavery system impacts its victims and its captors too. Both the servants and its owners concur that “a jungle” resides within the slaves. Nevertheless, the method they perceive the jungle differs. White individuals, the slave owners, believe that the jungle represents the havoc, deceit and evil in black individuals: “Swift unnavigable waters, swinging shouting baboons, sleeping snakes, red gums all set for their sweet white blood” (234 ). From the black individuals’s viewpoint, the white people seeded that jungle in them: “It was the jungle whitefolks planted in them. And it grew. It spread” (234 ). For the servants, the jungle signifies the emotional discomfort they go through which is bred from the slavery system. The more time passes, the more their discomfort heightens and begins to consume them. The jungle broadens bigger and bigger that it even entangles its creators: “It attacked the whites who had actually made it. Changed and modified them. Made them bloody, silly, worse than even they wished to be” (234 ). This description emphasizes how the slavery system adversely affects the entire human society. Not just the system distresses its victims, but also it causes its controllers to become more vicious and inhuman. The whole society suffers the degradation of compassion and mankind.
Morrison likewise paradoxically represents trees as the source of comfort and security for Denver. However, this favorable connotation still advises Denver of her requirement to seek for comfort: her sensation of desolation. Denver picks the round empty place surrounded by 5 boxwood bushes and names it “emerald closet” where she goes and contemplates whenever she feels sad, lonely and isolated (45 ): “First a playroom, then a refuge, soon the location ended up being the point. Because bower, blocked from the hurt of the hurt world, Denver’s imagination produced its own hunger and its own food” (35 ). Denver holds on to 3 things in many parts of the book: the baby ghost, Precious and the emerald closet. When Paul D concerns 124 and goes after the infant ghost out of the home, Denver has just one thing left to hang on to: “However it was gone now. Whooshed away in the blast of a hazelnut guy’s shout, leaving Denver’s world flat, mainly, with the exception of an emerald closet” (45 ). After the baby ghost is displaced of Denver’s life, the emerald closet ends up being a lot more important to her as the only buddy and reliance she has now. When the child ghost returns as Beloved, Denver recovers what she possessed before and ends up being extremely obsessed with Precious. Nevertheless, when Beloved does dislike Denver’s love, Denver returns to her emerald closet to console herself: “She had actually not remained in the tree room as soon as given that Beloved sat on their stump after the carnival, and had actually not remembered that she hadn’t gone there till this very desperate minute” (90 ).
Additionally, Morrison conveys the trees as the path to freedom for Sethe and Paul D. From Denver’s account to Beloved, we find out how Sethe escapes from Sweet Home: “there is this nineteen-year-old slavegirl– a year older than herself– walking through the dark woods to get to her children who are far away” (91 ). Morrison purposefully places the woods for how Sethe shows up to 124 and reunites with her household in order to signify the trees as the pathway to leave from slavery. Also, Paul D acquires aid from the trees to escape from Alfred, Georgia: “Just the tree flowers. As they go, you go. You will be where you wish to be when they are gone” (133 ). By describing how the tree flowers guide Paul D to get away, Morrison strengthens the idea that trees function as the way to flexibility. Nevertheless, the positive undertone of flexibility again reminds Sethe and Paul D of their need to run which activates their unpleasant memories.
To conclude, Morrison tactically expresses trees as having both favorable and negative connotations for her characters. By describing this contrast in the concept of the trees, Morrison assists the reader better comprehend the bigger paradox in the book: the totally free slaves being incorporated the past and not able to free themselves emotionally. Through this complex paradoxical representation, the reader can much better empathize with the characters: what it is like to be a former servant.