As we’ve been reading Otsuka, I’ve noticed that the trees and shade may be symbolic of peace and normalcy. On the coast, the family has trees and shade, and this seems to represent for them a sense of life, hope, and peace. In contrast, trees cannot survive in the barracks, and they emphasize that there is no shade. When the community plants trees, they are trying to regain some normalcy, but they do not last the winter. The death of the trees shows that no matter how hard the community tries, they cannot escape the fact that they are being held like prisoners. This emphasizes the family’s dehumanization. What do you think of trees as a symbol?
Trees and Shade in When the Emperor was Divine