Trees Of Gold, Rebecca West

In my opinion, this article is a journey. It’s a journey of a person who feels empty and purposeless in their life, searching for purpose and meaning. This is shown throughout the article, starting at the beginning with the introduction to the numerous toothbrushes found in their bathroom. The emptiness felt by the subject is evident through the language used throughout the piece: “ravening country” (p. 6), and the self-projections used throughout “I was a grey and disgusting object…” (p. 6). Additionally, the subject speaks about their severe apathy toward life (p. 6) and how they perhaps even enjoyed the pain they inflicted upon themselves “That is what I really liked: dying a little and dropping my life behind me…” (p. 5).

At the end of the story they reveal what they ultimately discovered throughout their many journeys: “…life itself is nothing: it is the trimmings that matter, the pride the honour and beauty.” (p. 7). Or perhaps they have mislead us the whole time. Perhaps it is more of a test; challenging us to ask the question, what is truly important? Because in the end, the trees of gold are really just plagued with disease.

 

http://library.brown.edu/cds/repository2/repoman.php?verb=render&id=1303304939127&view=pageturner&pageno=5

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Trees Of Gold, Rebecca West

  1. I agree with your thoughts this short story is a journey. The speaker establishes she has left the city of London and is traveling across Europe and is currently in Spain. I can see what you mean about feeling lost and purposeless, but I also think the speaker is commenting on those who never leave a city to see the raw and pure beauty of the untainted countryside. The speaker’s descriptions of the cities are extremely dark and graphic while her speech related to the countryside is always in awe. As an example of how the author speaks regarding a city is “… I went to Eastbourne . That was a horrible place , ravaged by a wind…” and “They would turn their backs on ravaged and distorted Spain and go to Switzerland to be pleased by the unsurprising beauty of the sunshine on the snow.” There is an entire section of this which the speaker takes time commenting on how she had never seen first-hand the natural beauty of nature and had only seen reproductions of it.

    • I can agree with both of you that the article is written out like an account of a journey. A lot of the examples that you have given and also her travelling across Europe from London imply just that. With regards to the idea of her feeling purposeless, another example that could be stated. It could also be assumed that the writer has contempt towards other women as implied by this quote “….and I had not passed unscathed by the flatness of France and the blunt ugliness of its women” (p.6). The author also reflects about what she feels about the people and culture in Spain. “Here in Spain the contemplation of his torn and bleeding body has perverted the people into a habit of indecency and the enjoyment of bullfights.” Of course the writer is referring to Christ in this quote. I think the writer shows disregard for religious spirituality, feeling it gives her no real meaning or appreciation for real life. The last sentence of this article, “Yet they were better, gilded and diseased, than the healthy tree whereof they cut the mischievous cross of Christ”(p.7), is yet more proof of the author’s huge love and fascination for the beauty of nature in contrast to her feelings of society.

  2. The suggestions about nature and the cities is what stood out to me the most! This passage specifically stood out to me on page 6: “But all the fine things that grow out of life like beauty or love or pride, demand this ritual of rashness and cruelty.” This is implying all of these aspects that are considered good originate from nature. The rashness and cruelty is humans and what they create I assume which just strengthens the argument.
    These implications are hinted at throughout the entire poem. Any time that nature is mentioned, West uses positive words: “Rage shivered the mountain into peaks and deep distortions so beautiful…” But the opposite is often true when referring to cities: ” We passe out of the Pyrenean mists and I looked out to find that we had left that damnable smiling green which makes France fit for nothing but a bleaching-ground. This idea of nature is what I believe to be the main effect of this poem. With a name like, “Trees of Gold,” it’s difficult for me to think otherwise.

    • I think both you and Braigen raise very interesting points regarding this piece. I also saw it similarly to Braigen where it seems a journey is the prevalent theme. However, the nature and the cities also stood out.
      The quotes Braigen picked were very poignant and dark. It contrasted very well with nature since nature is typically seen as a positive thing. You both mention the darkness and I think that’s very intriguing when you put it into the context of what both of you are saying.

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