The Persimmon Tree By Marjorie Barnard

1289 words - 5 pages

How does the extract affect the whole story? (The Persimmon Tree by
Marjorie Barnard)

Extract: “I liked the room from the first… anyone who appeared to have
her life so perfectly under control.”

Question: How does the extract affect the whole story?

The writer of the story “The Persimmon Tree”, Marjorie Barnard, was
born in Sydney. She was a novelist, historian, biographer as well as
librarian in her lifetime. She wrote many books, and among them, A
House is Built (1928) and Tomorrow and Tomorrow (1947) are the best
known (124 tutorial 30-10-01). Although “The Persimmon Tree” is
generally thought to be a piece of subtle work, and we may find it
difficult to get the hidden meanings of the words, Barnard has made it
charming by associating different things. She entitles the story “The
Persimmon Tree” partly because persimmons represent the narrator – a
weak and lonely individual whose life is in sharp contrast with what
Barnard describes, the “shadow of the tree”, which represents the
outside world. Barnard has delicately presented the narrator’s complex
feeling living between her “shell” and the outside world, and how the
outside forces contribute to her reform in the end of the story.

Obviously in the beginning of the extract, Barnard suggests that
“shadow” does not merely mean “shade that is caused by an object [it
is the trees in the story] blocking direct rays of light” (Oxford
Advanced Learner’s English-Chinese Dictionary: 1380). Barnard, in
fact, associates “shadow” connotatively with two things: changing
matters in the outside world and new life. Although it is not
presented clearly in the story, Barnard reflects her idea through the
descriptions of the narrator about the “shadow”: “the movement of the
branches [shadows] in the wind [seem] different.” (par.12) “the bare
twigs [are] beginning to swell with buds [that represent new life].”
The “shadow”, as described by Barnard, is itself a life, “[having] the
wall on to itself.” that is “intricate and rich” (par.12). It is, in
my view, the outside world in miniature – wonderful, lively, full of
changes, complex but beautiful. However, the narrator does not enjoy
being part of the world because as she claims, she “[has] been out of
things for quite a long time and the effort of returning was still too
great.” (par.1). She knows clearly that as a member in the society,
she is rather backward and she feels the need to reform herself so as
to adapt the life outside. Nevertheless, she is reluctant to change
herself; she tends to escape from the growing tendency of the society.
Therefore, Barnard, in the story, tells us that the narrator orders to
cut down the swelling buds (that represent reform and new life) of the
bare twigs. The “shadow”, to the narrator, is an intruder continually
trying to creep into the “shell”, which is her only protection from
the outside world. The “swelling buds”, in my opinion, continually
remind and urge the narrator...

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