Class 11 | The Magic of Words

Unchopping a Tree

Writer: W.S. Merwin


In the essay “Unchopping a Tree”, the writer presents an impossible example to convey deep meaning. Joining the chopped parts of trees refers to the new plantation of more trees in the open fields, which are full of stumps. Every part of trees refers to every part of nature whether they are small or big. Each and every part of nature is important. As we are also the creation of nature, it is our duty to maintain the balance in nature. We don’t have rights to destroy nature. Actually we are not destroying nature but we are destroying ourselves. Our lives totally depend upon nature. Through the writer’s appeal to join the parts of the chopped trees, he wants to remind human beings about their important works to be done to conserve the greenery of nature.

Unchopping a tree is impossible. It is only a kind of feeling but certainly, it has meaning. The writer emphasizes the preservation of nature. Nature should be preserved and those persons who cur the trees must plant some more in replacement. When they save and plant the trees, it is unchopping a tree. The writer warns that it is easy to destroy but very hard to create. He further says that the life of a tree and human life are the same so they should be preserved with equal emphasis. Not only the trees we should save but also should protect the habitats of some animals who live in trees. The writer tries to persuade us how to work hard to bring the chopped tree into the original situation, which is not really possible. When a tree is felled down, there is no way to bring it into its original condition. But its place can be replaced with more trees, which we plant. Trees are also important parts of the ecosystem as other living creatures. We should think of conservation of such trees instead of deforestation for the protection of the ecosystem.

Important Questions & Answers:

1. What does the essay “Unchopping a tree” suggest about conservation?
Ans: The essay “unchopping a tree” by showing the impossibility of restoring once cut down trees, makes people aware of the fact that we should not destroy the natural forest indiscriminately. Even if by hook or crook, you are able to make the tree stand, you can’t infuse life on it. It is easy to chop but impossible to restore. Thus before we chop we must know how to unchop, which is impossible. To sum up, he warns us against deforestation. If the acts are not stopped on time, it is going to boomerang on us in the long run.

2. How is the chopping down of trees compared to a man’s life in the poem ‘The Poplar Field’?
Ans: The poet thinks that he will die one day. He says that all the pleasures of man are destroyed. Even our life is short but our enjoyment will die before our death. He says that he is lying on the earth like the tree. He feels that cutting down of trees is serious as the death of human beings. The poet thinks that the pleasures of man are perishable and momentary. So, he appeals to the people for conserving nature. He says that deforestation should be stopped.

3. What is the central idea of the essay “Unchopping a Tree”?
Ans: 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 …”.

4. 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 defence/argument/resistance to 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.

Some Important Questions For Practise:

1)Is unchopping a tree possible? What does the essay “Unchopping a Tree” suggest about conservation and against deforestation?
2)What does the essay “Unchopping a Tree” says for conversation and against deforestation?

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