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What is the significance of "The Oak Tree" in Orlando?

"The Oak Tree" is a poem in Orlando that was inspired by a real oak tree. It is significant because it travels with Orlando for more than 300 years and represents Orlando's core identity as a writer. Orlando's gender, circumstances, culture, and historical period change, and the poem itself changes over time. Nevertheless, the continuous presence of the poem acts to "anchor" Orlando's heart and symbolizes this character's unchanging self.

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"The Oak Tree" is a poem that acts as a leitmotif or recurring symbol throughout the novel. It is with Orlando from the beginning of the book to the end, through more than 300 years of life. It functions to "anchor [Orlando's] heart." As a consistent element, it ties together all the identities of Orlando, because all of this main character's various selves work on and cherish this poem. At heart, no matter how much Orlando's gender or circumstances change, the poem points to this character's core identity as a writer:...

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