Yusef Komunyakaa's "Blackberries" and Class Difference

Exploring the issue of class difference with Komunyakaa

Yusef Komunyakaa’s “Blackberries” treats the issue of class difference from the perspective of a young boy. As a grown-up, the speaker looks back in time and recalls a day in his childhood. When he picks a fruit, there is a sense of guilt as the berries make his hand dirty. Thus, he compares himself to a thief who has his fingerprints on the things he touches. The first half of the poem is quite positive. The boy, for instance, lives in a rural area that gives peace with its birds and terrestrial sweetness. However, the speaker begins feeling pain after he realizes the difference between him and the rich kids who sit in an “air-conditioned” car and "smirk" at the speaker while he is trying to sell berries. Although the boy feeling still naive and innocent does not aware of what racism is, he gains an understanding after this experience. The binary opposition between the rich kids and the poor boy also emphasizes the humiliation of the child. The tone of the poem is nostalgic as the place he has lived once is like a paradise but towards the end, the tone of the speaker who is longing for the past gets bitter due to his unfair experience.