"Mom frowned at me.'You'd be destroying what makes you special' she said, 'It's the Joshua tree's struggle that gives it its beauty'" (pg. 38). What does the Joshua tree symbolize to Jeannette's mother?
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The tree that Rose Mary spots in the desert is indicative of the effect the struggles of life have on each of the characters in the memoir. Constantly blown by wind, the Joshua tree grows sideways, not upwards and, as Rose Mary declares, becomes beautiful because of its struggle. The Walls children can be seen as individual Joshua trees, their lives shaped by the constantly blowing wind of their parents' frequent moves and questionable habits. Jeannette tries to resist this force at first when living in New York. She does not want anyone to know about her past or judge her for allowing her parents to remain homeless. However, her attempts to grow upwards despite the constantly blowing wind are averted and she eventually succumbs like the Joshua tree, and grows sideways, finally allowing her struggle to be heard.