Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.
What if Spring Never Came?
How would you feel if spring never came? If it were cold, windy, snowy December all the time? That might be difficult or almost unbearable, especially if you knew it were going to continue day after day, with no end in sight.
The main character in Oscar Wilde's The Selfish Giant experiences something similar, but of his own doing. Let's take a look at this short story about a pretty big guy.
The Giant Comes Home
A group of child friends had found a new place to play! A garden close to their school is the perfect spot to let off some steam after the school day. What the children didn't know was that the garden belonged to a giant, who'd been away for seven years visiting a friend.
When he returns, he's none too pleased to find children parading around his garden. He chases the children away and is determined to keep them out, saying ''I will allow nobody to play in it but myself.'' He decides to build a wall and put up a sign warning trespassers against entering his land. There's sadness among the children, but they follow the rules and steer clear of the giant's garden.
The season changes from winter to spring...sort of. It seems that the season has changed everywhere except for the giant's garden. Winter has come to stay and has invited its friends Snow, Frost, North Wind, and Hail. It is a cold, windy, bleak, and miserable experience in the giant's garden.
A Change of Heart
Hope springs anew for the giant when he awakens one morning to hear a bird chirping outside his window. Spring has returned to his garden, but how? The giant approaches the window and sees the source: the children have returned to their play place! The entire garden is alive and blooming, as ''the trees were so glad to have the children back again that they had covered themselves with blossoms, and were waving their arms gently above the children's heads.'' But one small corner is still snow-covered.
In that corner, he sees a boy who's crying because he's too small to climb up into the trees like the other children. The boy's plight touches the heart of the giant and he finally sees how his selfishness has impacted the children and his garden.
The giant enters the garden to help the small boy, but the other children see him and run away in fear. Yet, the giant's heart has been changed. He helps the boy into the tree, and the boy gives him a hug around the giant's neck. He then vows to knock down the wall and make the garden welcoming to the children again, saying ''It is your garden now, little children.''
The Children Return
Once the children recognize the change in the giant, they return to the garden and it once again grows lovely, lush, and strong with the blooming trees and flowers of springtime. They play all day until evening, when the giant bids them good night. The boy the giant had helped earlier is nowhere to be found, however, so ''the Giant felt very sad.''
Years pass, and the giant has become too old to enter the garden. Instead he sits in a chair and watches as they play. The giant never forgot the small boy who he'd helped and become friends with.
Then, one day, a miracle happens! The small boy has returned. The giant approaches the boy, only to see wounds, ''prints of two nails'', on his hands and feet. Distraught, he demands to know who caused the injuries to the boy so he may hunt down the offender and deliver justice.
The boy simply says the injuries are the wounds of Love. The giant is in awe. After years of playing in the giant's garden, the boy tells his friend that he wants to take the giant to his own garden in Paradise.
Later, the other children return to the garden and find the giant ''lying dead under the tree, all covered with white blossoms.''
Oscar Wilde's The Selfish Giant begins with children playing in a garden. But a giant returns from visiting a friend to discover his garden has been turned into a playground by some children. He's very unhappy, kicks the children out, and decides to build a wall and place a 'No Trespassing' sign. The children stay away, but the garden is afflicted with perpetual winter. Spring does not come to the cold, hard ground and the trees and flowers fail to bloom. The giant doesn't understand what's happened.
Then, one day, the giant awakens to the sound of a bird chirping outside his window. Spring - and the children - have returned. But one corner is still snowy, because there crying is a boy who is too small to climb into a tree. The giant's heart is moved, he realizes his selfishness, helps the boy, and vows to tear down the wall he's built. Once again, the children have a place to play.
Years pass without sight of the small boy the giant befriended until one day he appears, with wounds in his hands and feet. The boy offers to take the giant to his garden in Paradise, and the other children later find him, dead beneath a tree.
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