What motif is used in The Notebook?

There are many motifs in The Notebook but a prominent one is the oak tree where Noah and Allie first fell in love. References to this tree occur throughout the novel, and each time the reader is reminded of the couple’s continued affection. The tree’s strength and age reflects that of Noah and Allie’s long-lasting love.

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There are many motifs in Nicholas Sparks’s The Notebook but I will explain one significant motif to help you get started reflecting on this idea.

A motif is an idea or a symbol that recurs throughout a text in order to convey an important message. The oak tree is a powerful motif in The Notebook. Almost every time the oak tree is mentioned it recalls the memories and the intensity of Allie and Noah’s love. Consider how Allie looks at the tree in the beginning of the novel. Immediately memories of her summer with Noah come rushing back and she recalls sitting with Noah under the tree that had been the “moment that she’d first fallen in love.” Once this memory is established at the start of the book, it becomes clear to the reader that the tree will symbolize their love for the rest of the story.

The oak tree is referenced many more times, such as when Allie asks Noah to talk to her like he did long ago under that tree. This request shows that the couple associates that tree with the earliest and purest expressions of their mutual affection. Another significant example of this motif is when Allie gives Noah the drawing she made of him. In the scene where Noah takes in the picture’s detail, Sparks describes that it looked as if Allie “had sketched it while sitting beneath the oak tree.” Her choice of scene represents that even after fourteen years she still has the same feelings for Noah that she had when they first fell in love.

It is also interesting to reflect on the particular symbolism of the tree. A tree grows with age, and yet typically remains sturdy. The tree in this text is also initially described as having “thick” branches which implies that it has stood the test of time. In a way, the strength of the oak tree also symbolizes Noah and Allie’s enduring love.

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