As a child, this book stuck in my memory like few others. The tree represented, at least to my young mind, a sort of ideal nurturing parental figure--ever giving, never asking anything in return. I somewhat resented the child, not while he was still a child but as he grew up and just kept on taking. He never thought to water or prune or fertilize his generous friend...
Okay, maybe I read too much into it even as a kid. The fact was, I felt so bad for the tree and kind of wanted to smack around the grown-up version of the boy. Any book that can draw out such feelings is a literary accomplishment in its own right.
As an adult I admit I continue to read too much into this book. Through the jaded lens of cynicism, this is the tragic story of a lifelong narcissist and his vegetative enabler. The lesson? If you let someone use you up, they will. And then they'll use your corpse as furniture.
...I should probably see about getting some therapy. >.<