English 11 Notes for English Notes

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Unchopping a Tree

- W. S. Merwin

Pseudo / False / Fake Directive Essay

Theme: If we cannot unchop the tree then it’s better not to chop the tree.

Short Outline of the essay “Unchopping a Tree”

A tree is chopped. Now you have to unchop or join all its parts and place it where it was. To unchop or join the tree, collect leaves, twigs and put them in their own places. If you have not cut down the tree into small pieces, it will not be difficult to join. If the tree is hollow and there are nests, the work will be more difficult. But, you have to put everything in their original order. If this tree has damaged other trees or plants while it was falling, you will have to repair them all. There may be spider’s web in the tree. Try your best to replace it. Can you use the leaf’s living bond to join in order to supply its food? Use fixative like gum to fix parts of the tree and get the help of scaffolding/support/framework to stand the tree upright. Mind it you must gather the chips and sawdust. Then, you must return them to their proper places. Oh! How to set the sap flowing? The next day, you remove the scaffolding piece by piece. When you take the last piece out, the tree stands on its own. You can’t believe your eyes. Now you can only wait and watch the tree.

Central Idea of the essay “Unchopping a Tree”

In this essay, the writer has shown that it is quite impossible to give life back to a tree when it is once chopped or cut. One can join the chopped down tree by using different fixatives. He could straighten the broken branches, could erect the trunk. But, he can’t give life to it. Natural unchopping a tree is impossible although it is easy to chop it. Thus, in this essay, the writer suggests the people of the world not to cut down the tree. Most of the lines in the essay are directive. The very first line of the essay goes –“start with the leaves, the small twigs, and the nests that have been shaken, ripped, or broken off by the fall …”.

Is unchopping a tree possible? What does the essay suggest about conservation and against deforestation?

Ans: To begin with, it should be very clear that unchopping a tree is never possible. Though in the essay “Unchopping a Tree”, the writer has given us instructions or repairing a tree and Unchopping it if a tree is cut down, both the writer and the readers know it very well that this is impossible. So, we can say that this essay has been written in pseudo directive style. As it is clear that unchopping a tree is never possible, the essay has another message. The message is that if we cannot unchop a tree, it is better not to chop down trees. In other words, this essay indirectly suggests us to preserve the environment.

However, at the surface level, unchopping a tree is possible by using different fixatives. We can fix each and every part of the tree, its leaves, branches, splinters, trunk, and even sawdust, we can stand it upright. But, the thing is that the tree doesn’t become as natural as it was before. We can’t give its life back in any way. So, a deep study of the essay clarifies that real unchopping a tree is not possible. In this way, by persuading the readers, the writer suggests people not to cut down the trees, but to conserve it.

In fact, this essay is a strong defense/argument/resistance for nature conservation. We are continuously going on cutting down trees recklessly. The future of this reckless chopping down is very dark. If unchopping was possible, there was no harm in chopping down the trees. But, that is not possible. So, we shouldn’t cut down trees. Thus, this essay is a strong voice against deforestation.

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