Blackberry Winter: My Earlier Years Critical Context - Essay

Margaret Mead

Critical Context

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Mead has written her book as an outgrowth of self-analysis in what could be a model for young readers in looking at their own lives, as she is often brutally honest and frank in describing criticism of herself. Mead also provides many clues about how early interests were translated into her successful career as an anthropologist. In fact, her style of self-analysis is in keeping with the methods used by the anthropologists of her time period.

Mead’s sense of adventure is compelling. Perhaps because Mead began taking notes on her family at an early age, she skillfully records incidents in her life almost as if she were an observer of a native tribe or people. Descriptions of her fieldwork relate back to her own life, serving as a study of American culture. Her book becomes a statement about the continuity of family and her own belief in the equality of the sexes.

Mead’s writing is clear, allowing the reader to move easily from chapter to chapter. The work is certainly a classic autobiography in its portrayal of incidents and in its psychological clues into an individual who helped to found a discipline. Her motives for life choices will continue to be as relevant to young readers as they were when the book was written. Her studies provide an anthropological definition of adolescence and, as such, convey a sense of her time period to future young adults.