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
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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