* Emil Sinclair, a grown man, reflects on his coming of age in the early 1900s.
* His story begins when he is ten-years-old. In an effort to impress neighborhood bully, Franz Kromer, Sinclair invents a story about stealing apples.
* Kromer demands money from Sinclair in return for not saying anything about the apples. Sinclair doesn't have enough money, so Kromer subjects him to stealing and running errands.
* Until he runs afoul of Kromer, Sinclair describes his world as a realm of love and lightness.
* Kromer introduces Sinclair to the forbidden realm of darkness, replete with scandal, drunkards who beat their wives and workmen who tell ghost stories.
* Sinclair wants to be clear-sighted and unspoiled, but he is drawn to the seamier side of life.
* Sinclair is afraid of the effect Kromer is having on him and the growing distance he feels between himself and his family.
* Sinclair contemplates...
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