This study guide will help you analyze the short story “Blackberries” (1988) by Leslie Norris. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective.
Leslie Norris (1921-2006) was a Welsh poet and short story writer. He is considered one of the most important Welsh writers of the post-war period and has won multiple literary prizes. The short story “Blackberries” was published in the collection The Girl from Cardigan in 1988.
Here, you can read an extract from our study guide:
The blackberries are a symbol of the boy’s relationship with his father and the time they spend together. The boy enjoys the sweet blackberry in the same way that he cherishes and appreciates the time spent with his father. The blackberry picking experience seems at first to be turning into a great memory for the child: “When he laughed his father saw that his mouth was deeply stained. Together they picked and ate the dark berries, until their lips were purple and their hands marked and scratched” (p. 59, ll. 7-10). In this way, their intention to gather some blackberries to take home to the mother symbolizes an attempt to share the joyful experience with the mother too.
Another important symbol in the text is the boy’s first haircut. The haircut is representative of the boy’s transition from toddler to a little boy. He used to only get his haired trimmed by his mother, but now he goes to a barbershop to have someone else cut his hair which shows his parents consider him to be old enough to start getting his hair cut in a barbershop, as the mother says: “ ‘my husband and I, we thought it was time for him to look like a little boy’ ” (p. 56, ll. 2-3). Moreover, the barbershop is the same one the boy’s grandfather had been getting haircuts for 50 years which makes the boy’s first haircut feel like a rite of passage he has to go through in order to become more like the older men of the family.