The Cherry Tree by Ruskin Bond
In The Cherry Tree by Ruskin Bond we have the theme of struggle, resilience, dedication, conflict, growth, responsibility and pride. Taken from his Collected Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Bond may be exploring the theme of struggle. The seed that Rakesh plants incurs many difficulties before it grows to become a cherry tree. Just as an individual may struggle in life so too does the cherry tree. However what is interesting is the resilience that the cherry tree shows. It is as though the cherry tree refuses to be defeated by life. If anything the cherry tree becomes more resilient as it grows. The fact that Rakesh also nurtures the cherry tree might be important as Bond may be suggesting that just as the cherry tree may need a little help to grow. So too do people. Those who are nurtured and cared for in life have a better chance of success (like the cherry tree) than those who may be left abandoned or forgotten about. Something that Rakesh does not do. He constantly keeps an eye on the cherry tree to ensure that everything is okay. Which may highlight the dedication that Rakesh has.
Just as the cherry tree mirrors the struggles that an individual might incur in life it is also possible that Bond is suggesting that in life comes conflict too. Something which is very much the case for the cherry tree. It is defenseless at first against any possible predators due to its size but as it grows it becomes stronger. Which may be symbolically important as Bond could be suggesting that an individual as they grow (not only physically) will also become stronger. If anything with growth comes the ability to overcome adversity. What also makes the cherry tree so important to Rakesh is the fact that he has been responsible for its growth. Just as a parent might help a child. So too has Rakesh helped the cherry tree. He has never forgotten his responsibility and there is a sense that Rakesh has been rewarded for his patience. The cherry tree is able to look after itself just as child might when he or she matures into adulthood. No longer does Rakesh have to worry about the cherry tree. Just as a parent may no longer have to worry about a child when he or she becomes an adult.
Rakesh’s grandfather may also be an important character as he in many ways acts as a guide for Rakesh. It is through his help that Rakesh is able to ensure that the cherry tree grows to become stronger. This may be significant as there are many similarities between Rakesh and the cherry tree. As Rakesh grows taller and stronger so too does the cherry tree. The reader aware that both have been helped and assisted by Rakesh’s grandfather. It is as though Bond is suggesting that with age comes wisdom and an ability to be kind to others. The reader already knows that without Rakesh’s grandfather’s help. Rakesh would not be in school. Which may bead some critics to suggest that Bond is highlighting the importance of family when it comes to an individual’s growth. Just as Rakesh might have a responsibility towards the cherry tree. So too does Rakesh’s grandfather have a responsibility towards Rakesh. The result being that Rakesh through the help of his grandfather is living a healthy and balanced life. He is being led by his grandfather along the right path in life. Just as the cherry tree is being nurtured by Rakesh. Rakesh in turn is being nurtured by his grandfather.
The end of the story is also interesting as there is a sense that Rakesh knows what it feels like to create something and more importantly to see it reach its potential. Through hard work and dedication Rakesh has successfully seen the cherry tree grow from strength to strength. To the point where it no longer needs the protection of Rakesh or his grandfather. Which may be symbolically important as Rakesh has played the role of a parent when it came to the cherry tree’s development. He was constantly by the cherry tree’s side just as a parent might be with a child. He was urging the cherry tree on so that it could reach its potential again just as a parent might urge on one of their children. At every stage of the story Rakesh has behaved in a manner that is befitting of a parent. It’s just that on this occasion Rakesh’s responsibility was not to a child but to a young cherry tree that at times needed his help in order to survive in a world where there is not only struggle but conflict too. If anything Rakesh has every right to feel proud of himself and of the cherry tree. He has cared for and nurtured the cherry tree since it was a seed.