Blackberry Picking by Seamus Heaney

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The poem by Seamus Heaney describes what the blackberries look like, taste like and feels like in great detail. He used the descriptions of colour very well. In the short story the writer describes the excitement and feelings of the young boy in great detail, however he then describes the feelings of disappointment and sadness he experiences.

Both texts are also about childhood and growing up, however Seamus Heany has written from his own experiences.

Leslie Norris tells the story about a young boy who does things and feels things for the first time, he has his first haircut and his mother buys him his first ever cap. The cap is foolishly spoilt by using it to carry the blackberries home. This is what causes the change of mood in this text. The texts go from an excited and happy mood to a very negative atmosphere.

While the young boy was in the barbers, he was very observant and curious of what was going on around him. As the boy’s hair was cut, the young boy feels different and the experience was a new one. The barber makes him feel older by saying, “One gentleman to have his locks shorn.” We know the barber is old because he explains, “I’ve cut your fathers hair for fifty years.” He also asks how his father is which indicates that perhaps he is a close family friend. The family obviously trust him and has confidence in him because they ask him to give their son his first proper hair cut.

Again Leslie Norris describes some of the first experiences, “New short hairs stood up sharp against his hand.”

The haircut now makes the young boy feel more grown up and look a lot older. He is no longer a baby and is now a proper boy.

After the haircut his mother takes him to buy a new cap. Again this is another first experience for him. The boy tries on the smallest size, however this is still too large. This may be because of the hair being cut short. The man selling the cap could fit two fingers under it, although the mother still buys the cap because its then something for him to grow into that will last for a long time.

The mother says, “It’s expensive enough.” which suggest that maybe the family have money problems.

Later that day the boy’s father returns home and had dinner waiting for him. “He leaned against his father’s knee.” This is describing to is how small the boy is.

“On Sunday, we’ll go for a walk. Just you and I. We’ll be men together.” This is what the father says to the young boy after he has tried on his cap. This is to be another first experience for him as he is now feeling proud and much more grown up.

In the next paragraph there is a lot of descriptive and visual writing. For example, “The sun was warm and the paths dry.” This informs us of the weather conditions and creates a clear image. The young boy is looking forward to his walk with his father.

The boy and his father go to Fletchers Wood. He had never been there before making this another first experience. His father found a Blackberry bush off which the boy had his first taste of a blackberry. The way in which this is described is very visual. This walk is obviously very important to the young boy as he is now starting to feel like a proper boy.

They decide to take some blackberries home with them but having nothing to carry them in, they fill the new cap. This is now where the change of mood kicks in.

“It was a stupid thing to do, utterly stupid. What were you thinking of?” The mother is clearly angry and this highlights the money problems again. Her reaction to what they did is her face turns red and distorted and her voice shrill.

As the boys parents start to argue the boy is witnessing them arguing for the first time. He is obviously upset by this. “He began to cry quietly to himself.” It seems is trying not to show that he is upset. He is trying to be a big brave boy.

“The child began to understand that they were different people.” The writer indicates that the boy is seeing his parents in a new light. Maybe thought now he has seen the real people that they are and he was clearly disturbed by this.

The last sentence of the text is, “…that he must learn sometimes to be alone.” Perhaps the young boy feels he caused the argument and he didn’t want to see his parents argue.

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