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Blackberries: Family and Father

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People reflect upon their lives trying to find out when the age of innocence has come to an end. In the short story “Blackberries,” written by Leslie Norris, such simple events take place, but in truth, changes one’s life forever. The tale of a young boy goes through a series of trials and tribulations that first seem almost at the point of nirvana, but in the end leads him to the harsh realities of life. Norris portrays a great deal of character contrast between the young boy’s parents and a strong use of symbolism with the blackberries, while all three characters play a keen role that displays life’s misfortunes and calamities.

Innocence is all there is to the young boy at first. Everything that surrounds him, the boy does not display harmful feelings against, nor hostility, but plays with happily to make him feel more cheerful, such as where he gets his first haircut and “moves[ed] his fingers against the inner surface of the sheet and made a six with it, and then an eight.(23) Even “watching the small tuffs oh his hair drop lightly on the sheet”¦”amuses him so much.(23) The boy makes the best out of everything that occurs in his life. He obtains all the good traits of an ideal boy such as patience. For the boy “wants[ed] his cap very much”¦” Munoz pp.2 yet “he is not impatient even when she(his mother) meets[et] Mrs. Lewis and talks[ed] her”¦”(23) The love the boy has for his father is deeply profound. Norris describes a strong mutual relationship when the boy and his father eat dinner. Leslie Norris writes, “The man lifted the dry gravy with his knife and fed it to his son, very carefully lifting it into a boy’s mouth as if he were feeding a small bird.”(24) The young boy admires such care that his father gives to his child for he “leans[ed] drowsily against his father’s leg.(24) This is the bond that establishes pure thought in a young boy’s mind. He does not think of anything else but the love that they share and the relationship that both father and son builds.

A different relationship lies between the young boy and his mother comparing to the father. The boy does show his love by being obedient and patient to his mother, but does not create a solid bond with his mother. The boy is extremely quiet while the mother takes him out for his haircut and takes him shopping. The boy, bonding with his mother, amuses himself by playing around while being seated as he receives his first haircut, yet he “walks[ed] seriously beside his mother”¦” when they both stroll down to the shopping center.(23) In the beginning of the story the mother seemed very overprotective and dominant when making decisions for the young boy. The mother decides how the haircut should be made Munoz pp.3 for the boy, but at the same time tries to be submissive about being the one who is dominant over the child. The statement, “I, my husband and I”¦”from the mother definitely states how the mother is very governing towards the child.(23) The mother also seems very materialistic for buying such an expensive hat for the child. The child is very young, he does not need such material that is expensive at such a young age. Even the thought of the hat lasting for a long time did not occur in the mother’s mind. The store clerk had given the idea to her. In a materialistic point of view, the mother wants what is best for her son so she buys the most expensive hat in the store.

An ideal relation between a boy and his father is well described in the father. The father is very caring, honest, and unselfish to his son and his wife. He seems not materialistic but down to earth. He looks at his son while the boy, “puts[put] on his cap and stands[stood] before his father, certain of the man’s approval” but the father stands there not noticing the cap but realizing how proud he is of his son. Instead of noticing how beautiful and expensive the cap looks on the boy, the father thinks about being men together and bonding.(24) The father recalls his bonding with his father and is passing the tradition to his son hoping that his son would do the same for his soon to be grandchildren. The father takes him to Fletcher’s Woods where Norris describes the father’s feelings towards the Munoz pp.4 Woods and how beautiful it seems to the father. Norris explains the “shade beneath the trees, and sunlight, thrown in yellow patches on to the grass, seems[ed] to grow out of the grass rather than come from the sky.(25)

The father and the son start to become even more closer by picking the blackberries in the bush and eating them together while laughing. Both the father and the son felt the sweet goodness from the blackberries that held them even tighter than before. The blackberries symbolized the relationship the father has for his son, like blackberries, will grow and be passed along to new generations, such as newly grown blackberries. The father even thought of the mother by making sure they brought some berries home to her came to mind. The boy also is not selfish for he gives his hat to put the berries in to give to his mother. Both the father’s and the son’s relationship is an ideal relation ship to many children.

The quarrel between the mother and the father opens the boy’s eyes. He realizes his mother is selfish, for she is infuriated at the fact that the hat was used to take home the blackberries. The mother does not give time to the father to explain that the berries are for her. The boy also does not think of the cap for he innocently looks at the stained cap. The mother is so heavily concerned about the cap that was bought, she insults the father out of her anger. The father does not seem to be as aggressive for he Munoz pp.5 keeps quiet and states that “he[I] does[do] what he[I] can.”(26) The boy realizes that his father is being put down by his mother by the tonality of the mother’s voice. The boy has come to the conclusion that father was only trying to do what was best for the family yet the father was being put down for that. This incident now opens the boy’s eyes. For he feels the beginning stages of emotional pain and suffering that is brought upon him from his mother and father.

A young child so innocent can become so disturbed by such a small event. The connection between the father and mother are highly diverse. The young boy is a split personality of both the father and mother, so when the argument took place he felt the splitting of the mother and father within himself. Unknowingly, the boy is now stronger for he has experienced such a pain that will scar him for life.


Munoz pp.5 Works Cited Hunt, Douglas. “Blackberries.” The Riverside Anthology Of Literature. Ed. Douglas Hunt. 3rd ed. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997: 22-26

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