Study Guide

Blackberry-Picking Greed

By Seamus Heaney

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Well, the kid can't eat just one! He wants tons and tons of berries, a whole secret stash just for himself. He's obsessed with searching for them. He carries berries in anything that will hold them. He stores them in a bath (now that's a lot of berries). "Blackberry-Picking" shows us the determined energy behind greed and its negative consequences.

Questions About Greed

  1. At what point do you realize it's not just moderate desire but greed that drives these boys to pick the berries?
  2. Do you think if they weren't so greedy, the results would have been different (their berries wouldn't have spoiled)?
  3. Do you think there's a conclusive moral to this poem? Is Heaney trying to say that greed is a punishable sin? What makes you think that?

Chew on This

Though Heaney shows the boys' greed, the poem's tone isn't a punishing one. He sees greed as something inherent to their age.

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