On Killing a Tree

by Gieve Patel

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Student Question

How does the tree survive hacking and chopping in 'On Killing a Tree'?

Expert Answers

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The speaker actually says that one can "hack and chop / But this alone won't" kill the tree. Even after being hacked and chopped, the tree's "bleeding bark will heal," and new "green twigs" will sprout and grow bigger and bigger, as long as they are left alone. The tree, then, does not have to do much to overcome the damage done by any hacking and chopping, because it is so very strong to begin with; it will naturally be able to continue on with its life. It takes so much more than that to kill it. In order to be done any real significant damage, the tree's roots would have to be pulled from the earth. Only when the tree's roots are exposed and destroyed can the tree itself be killed.

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