Themes In The Tree Of Red Stars

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate October 2001

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The Tree of Red Stars, by Tessa Bridal, presents many themes throughout the story. The story itself is of Magdalena Ortega Grey growing up in Uruguay as it is taken over by a military dictatorship. It chronicles not only her life, but the life of the poor, the social injustices of this time and the revolt against it. One of the themes contained in this novel is that of the activism of students. Students are the leaders of this revolt, they lead the Tupamaros. Students are displayed as the activists working for change. This can be compared to any college campus as university students are usually much more active politically than other groups of people in society.

In Magdalena's Uruguay the students are no different. They voice their opposition to government policies and American interference by way of student strikes which "were a matter of almost monthly occurrence...writing

slogans on city walls, marching by the hundreds, holding up traffic and defacing government property." (pg. 160) She describes the university buildings of Uruguay as "recipients of years of anger and frustration" with walls "covered in slogans; monuments defaced." (pg. 162) The students are thus shown to be very vigorous on the political front. The students are an intelligent, motivated group who feel they have the power to enact change and therefore form groups like the Tupamaros to band together and strive for change. By inviting a revolutionary like Che Guevara (pg. 101) to the university to speak they also evidence this propensity toward liberal activism. He represents revolutionary change in Latin America and the students support him and rally to him while the American government is opposed to his ideas which would hurt their investments.

Students worldwide seem to have this need to support change in society. Entering a college environment with other such intellectual people who probably share liberal views possibly provokes this political vigilance. It brings to mind a quote attributed to Winston Churchill, "Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains." Young people set out to change the world. The students in this story set out to redress the wrongs of the government and to overthrow it and replace it with a better system. A system of liberty for Latin America that is without the intervention of the "Yanquis" of the north and that condemns the human right's abuses the current government uses to keep people in line. The students wish to change the Uruguayan society for the better by way of peaceful protest.

The Tree of Red Stars does an excellent job of portraying this characteristic of students. The theme is present from the time Magdalena goes to see Che speak at the University. Students are encouraged to take part in their own future and do this through political activism. Magdalena witnesses this revolt of the Tupamaros and the work of the students against the government and even takes part in it in her story.