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The Learning Tree

IRP Quarter 1 Project
by

Megan Dieu

on 25 September 2012

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Transcript of The Learning Tree

The Learning Tree By: Gordon Parks First Published in 1963 Evaluation of Novel: The Learning Tree teaches "how it feels to be black in a white man's world" (front cover). Throughout the story, Newton Winger, the main character, faces many challenges most kids his age would not normally have to face, such as religion and racism. From a young age, Newt always thought outside of the box and contemplated thoughts, ideas, and philosophies most of his grown, adult neighbors never even skirted the boundaries on. As Newt grows, he learns that there is not always a black and white answer to every situation and problem. Most of the time the answers that are needed are neither black or white, but grey. Newt is often criticized, mocked, beaten, secluded, and has his life threatened because of his beliefs and ideas on who he is and who he can one day be throughout the book. He learns to bare the burden that is laid upon his shoulder with such grace, you often forget how young he is because of the manner in which he holds himself. Fighting for what he believes in and what he know is right even if the consequences are high and costly, Newt becomes a man. This book shows that it takes a boy to become a man, and the path to get there is not always easy and it is filled with difficulties and trials unlike any other. I give this book a 10 out of 10. It has a great story line and humor along with a good moral. This book should be read by all backgrounds of a mature age because of language and sex references. Favorite Quote: " If you got a battle to fight, you cain't rigtfully ask the Lord to help you and not the other fella. Now can you?...No, son, you got to fight and hope God likes the way you're using your fists. And that goes for the boy you're fightin'... I hope you won't have to stay here all your life, Newt. It aian't a all-good place and it aian't a all-bad place. But you can learn just as much here about people amd things as you can learn any place else. Cherokee Flats is sorta like a fruit tree. Some of the people are good ans some of them are bad -- just like the fruit on a tree. ... No matter if you go or stay, think of it like that till the day you die -- let it be your learnin' tree" (Gordon 29). Quote Paraphrased: It's your responsibility to fight your own battle. You can't expect anyone else to step into the ring and take over for you; not God, your family or your best friend. It's your battle and you have to fight it out till you are the last one standing, using everything you have going for you to the best of your ability. It's a hard life, but you make the decision on what you do with it. Whether you progress forward onto bigger and better things or retrogress into a deep, dark hole. There are going to be ups ans downs filled with many bruises and bumps along the way. You have to take what you are given and make the best of it, learning all you possibly can. Some of it will be good, some bad, but you take it for what it is worth, learn the lesson and continue to move forward not dwelling in the past. Fight for what you stand for; stand for what you believe in; believe in what is right; learn to the fullest of you ability. When all is said and done, be the best person you can possibly be. Summary: The Learning Tree takes place around 1925 in Cherokee Flats, Kansas. In the beginning of the novel, Newt, the main character is faced with his first hard, life changing decision; whether or not to turn his friend Marcus Savage in for nearly beating a man to death. Newt chooses to tell the truth and turn Marcus in forever changing his life. Later on in the novel, Newt begins to realize just how bad racism is in his town. From being called a "nigga" to being denied entry into the high school, Newt realizes that everything he does and wants to ever do is effected by his color. This same issue leads Newt to harbor the identity of the murder of Jake Kriner to himself because he was afraid of creating more social tensions than there already was. Finally after much consideration, Newton comes clean and tells the court that the true suspect was Booker Savage, Marcus' father. Against Newt's intentions, Marcus' hatred towards the Newt grows because Newt sentenced his father to death, while on the other hand, Newt is a hero to everyone else in the town. Newt is almost killed by Marcus but instead watches him fall to his death. On his mother's death bed, Newt promises to get a better life for himself outside of Cherokee Flats. Analysis of Theme: A common theme throughout the novel is that racism and hatred cause distrust and break apart societies and relationships. It was because of this hatred that Newt was denied entry into the local high school, not his academic performance. Newt and his fellow classmates, along with their parents fought the school board to allow the students entry. Evidence was found that the school's claim to me "overcrowded" was false and that the black middle school had three times the amount of student per teacher as the white high school had to one teacher. The hatred and racism caused the colored students to be denied a good education therefore eventually forcing them to not have substantial jobs if they never got an adequate education. Simile: " Newt, his mind unraveling like a ball of yarn, poured out the nightmare hurriedly, as if he couldn't wait to rid himself of it." (Parks 182). Dialect: " 'Tain't funny a bit" (Parks 75).

"Well, com on in boy. Ain't much here to eat, but I'll stir up somethin'" (Parks 100). Antagonist: After Newt did what he thought was right, Marcus Savage was arrested and his father was killed.Marcus, the antagonist in the novel, swears to" kill that Winger-son-of-a-b***h if it's the last thing [he'll] do" (Parks 197). Protagonist: The protagonist of the story is Newt Winger. He was a willing character ready to do whatever need to be done. When his girlfriend Arcella and him were treated badly because they were colored, he wraped his arms around her and said, "I'ts okay. It's okay.... It's okay. We'll show'em someday. We'll show'em" (Parks 113). Direct Characterization: Arcella Jefferson had "two big brown eyes, set is a tan, dimpled face" (Parks 69). Theme: A common theme through out the book is " if all the people in the world were made up of colors like [green, blue, purple and yellow] instead of just some black and some white, it would be a happier world. A wonderful world all mixed up with wonderful colored people, nobody bein' the same as anybody else" (Parks 59). In other words, the world would be a much better place if everyone accepted each other for who they were, and not the color of their skin.
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