The Role of Trees in Terry Kay's To Dance With The White Dog

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The Role of Trees in Terry Kay's To Dance With The White Dog


In the novel To Dance With The White Dog there are many similarities between Sam Peek and Kay’s father. The Dedication and Authors Note, located before and after the[b1] novel, give the reader insight into the true meaning of the book. In the Authors Note Kay speaks of his father and the fruit trees that he cared for; from this a correlation arises with Sam Peek and his beloved pecan trees.

Terry Kay’s father cultivates fruit trees. Fruit trees generally live for approximately ten years then die off. It takes fruit trees three to five years before they will bear fruit. Overall fruit trees require a short term commitment. Although Kay’s father became famous for his well grown trees, it did not require the dedication and time that Sam Peek had to exert for his pecan trees.[b2] In the novel Sam Peek has dedicated his life to the growth and production of his pecan trees. Pecan trees take at least five years to yield fruit and can live up to seventy-five years. They take much more time and effort to yield profit. Cultivating pecan trees is a life long project. In the novel Sam Peek dedicates his life to the care of his pecan trees. In his old age, when he is retired from the tree business, he still has the commitment to go to the pecan orchard and pull weeds. This shows Sam Peeks strong bonds to his life and family[b3]. He is very much tied down to the land around his family home. His dedication to his trees is because he wishes to provide a good life for his family. He pours a lot of effort into this wish.

While reading this novel the reader interprets the meaning of the author based on the knowledge that the book is fictional; however, when the reader finds out that there is some truth to the story at the end of the book they must reevaluate their interpretations.[b4][b4] Kay reveals in the Authors Note at the end of the book that the character of Sam Peek is based on his father.

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This makes the reader think back on the character of Sam Peek and his actions, because now he has a real aspect.

Once the reader gains the knowledge from Terry Kay about his father[b5] then the book takes on a whole new meaning. Throughout the book Sam Peeks character continually goes to the pecan orchard and is known for his pecan trees. His stability in life is evident to the reader through the knowledge of his close connection with the trees. Kay’s father has a similar life; however, with less commitment.



Works Cited

Kay, Terry. To Dance With The White Dog. New York: Washington Square Press, 1990.


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