What is the "tree" in the cold sassy tree significant? What does it stand for?

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The town's history is symbolized through the tree. Early in the town's history there were many of the trees, and the town even took its name from the tree. However, with the advancement of more modern times--the dubious growth of the town--the grove of trees was diminished until there was simply one left. Ironically, this lone tree is removed at the end of the story for further modernization of the railroad tracks, and at that point the towns people turn their back on their history and consider a name change to show their more modern nature.

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