Robert Penn Warren's "Blackberry Winter" is the story of one young boy's sudden and painfully realistic venture from behind the blissful cloak of childhood innocence into the more brutal reality of the world. Warren captures this transition through the eyes of the young and happily naïve Middle Tennessee farm boy, Seth. When the story begins, the nine year old Seth is lingering on the very edge of his innocence, but is undoubtedly still in the throws of the methodical and simple life that only a child can truly have. Before that fateful day when the unusual stranger appeared so suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere, Seth led the secure and rhythmic life that comes with both ignorance and innocence. Seth having never left or even given much thought to life outside his small farm community, he had been sheltered from the true evils of the world. He had no concept of time or change, and had never needed one. That day, and that stranger, forced him to become aware of things that were beyond his control and even made him question the very things that he had always held as the gospel truth.
A child's coming of age is a universal and inevitable transition that Seth does not foresee or even expect, and until looking back on it almost thirty-five years later, he does not realize the true significance of his passage. That day Seth's very foundations were rocked as his eyes were opened to the world and its ways. When the story begins Seth's transition has already begun to take place, and the smooth and repetitive rhythm of his life that has always brought him so much comfort slowly begins to crumble. Even such a small and seemingly insignificant thing as not being allowed to go outside in June without shoes, something which he has always been able to do, puzzles and confuses Seth. The appearance of the odd and out of place stranger even further fascinates and bewilders the small boy. Seth's world begins to spin even faster and...
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