What is the overriding theme of "Our Casuarina Tree" by Toru Dutt?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the overriding theme that comes out of the poem is the challenges that exist between our living in the present and the connection to our past.  Another way to consider this is how human beings address the issue of death.  For the speaker of the poem, presumably Dutt, this exists in the idea that she is condmned to live in the present while the memories of the people she love exist in the past.  This is where the analysis of death or the passing of time enters.  It is here where the poem goes far in suggesting that part of our connection to our past exists in objects that are able to tell a story of that past, in this case, the tree.  Dutt's poem brings out the human condition of living in the present with thoughts that exist in the past.  There is obvious pain, a sense of the nostalgic condition that underscores all consciousness.  As time passes, our memories become more stretched out and the inevitable feeling of wishing to reconnect with that has passed becomes a larger challenge of the human predicament.  It is in this where the poem speaks and explores the issue of memory and passage from a thematic point of view.

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