Parsley Garden

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The short story “The Parsley Garden" set in the 1940s in California dramatizes

the plight and choice of a young boy named Al who struggles with his sense to correct a

serious error when he stole a hammer. When a person loses his self respect, only he can

regain it . This is dramatized when young Al is tempted, steals, gets caught is humiliated,

searches and then finds a solution .Al, an eleven year old boy with no money wandered

into a hardware store to amuse himself. While walking through the store, he came across

a hammer, knowing that he already had the wood and nails to build a table and chairs for

his mother, he was tempted with the idea of possessing a real hammer. It was unlike Al to

steal something or to be in any sort of trouble but, his determination to construct

something for his mother, led him to an impulsive act which put his character to a painful test.

While standing in front of it, he impulsively slipped the hammer into his pocket,

his young inexperienced mind not thinking of any repercussions. No sooner than he put it

in his pocket, he felt a firm grasp on his arm.

A young store clerk had caught Al attempting to steal the hammer. Acting

aggressively the young clerk pushed Al to a small office in the back of the store. The

younger man, the one who had captured him, was excited and his forehead was covered

with sweat".(p3) The two young men, Al and the store clerk are connected through their

youthful inexperience. Al fell into his temptation, which resulted in him stealing from the

store. The store clerk overreacted and threatened Al escalating the emotional distress.

Had either of the two had more life experience, they probably would have made better

decisions. In the small office, the hostile clerk turned Al over to the store manager.

Left alone with the manager, Al stood and waited for fifteen minutes to be

reprimanded. " Al didn't know what to say. The man wasn't looking at him, he was

looking at the door".(p4) When the manager finally did talk to Al, he humiliated because

to these men he is referred to as “one of them”, a thief. They make him stand up

for about 15 minutes before the older man looks at him. Al is ignored as if he did

not exist, and is later threatened by the young man manager; “ I ought to hit you

over the head with it”. This reflects their total disgust with his behavior,

“Just because you don’t have money doesn’t mean you’ve got to steal things”,

said the old man. The old man makes Al go through the back of the door into the

alley, which is degrading, reducing Al to an inferior, shameful person, lowering his

social status..

Embarrassed by the encounter he just had, Al began to wander around the town

trying to find a solution for his shameful behavior. Al contemplates going back into the

store to either say something to the young store clerk, or even go through with stealing

the hammer. He struggles with the regret, and thinks of what he should have done and

said. It is clear that he has animosity towards both the older manager and the young clerk.

His wandering is in search of a solution to the regret and shame he feels. He drank a sip

of water which symbolizes an attempt of purification from the act he committed. The

parsley represents the events that happened in the little boy’s life, and he will remember

them for the rest of his life. He walks on the railroad tracks to think some more,

symbolizing he is trying to get his life back on track. While walking around he was

looking for money on the ground but all he could find was broken glass and nails which

reminded him of the pain that he is feeling. It was all nothing of value, just as he felt.

In the parsley garden, where his mother grew different vegetables and went to

relax and reflect on her day, Al confessed the he stole from the store. In the garden, there

was one thing that stood out...
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