Be original- not revisional

If the internet is any indication, many people take issue with Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” and its illustration of extreme selflessness. Its famously melancholy ending has the tree give itself up fully for the convenience of the boy. However, playwright Topher Payne missed the nuance of this finale in his recent rewrite. He decided the tree needed to set some healthy boundaries with the boy, and, in his version, the tree lives on to get an online degree and open a bakery with the boy. 

I have no issue with Payne’s message, but his means are more than questionable. Silverstein’s ending allows the reader to come to their own conclusion about the correct course of action and if or how the boy takes things too far. Payne and those who print out his ending to cover up Silverstein’s work are missing this crucial insight on interpreting art- you get to decide what it means, especially considering the open-ended morality of this book.

There is a fundamental issue with rewriting or modifying any completed work, especially if the author isn’t around. This is Shilverstein’s story and those who do not like it are free to write their own rather than alter the work of others. The world doesn’t benefit from more opinions about old literature or attempts to amend classic stories, but new classics that bring fresh stories breathe life into a genre. It is infinitely better to create your own art that aligns with your perspective than it is to slash someone else’s delicate painting into a smiley-face. This canvas has been used.