Stephan's struggle of becoming a man is a very confusing time for him. He is in a small environment, yet the influences that surround him are strong from both his father, and Leka or "The Polack". Stephan's father is a "burly, red faced man", a manly father who did not give much if any emotional comforting to his son. He was the "foremen of the crew" and wanted nothing more but to have his son to "start actin' like a man".
The other man that influenced Stephan's transition into manhood in the North was Leka, the outcast, well at least to the other men. To Stephan's father Leka seemed like a sensitive man, who he even believed to be gay.
Leka spoke of places and things that all other men Stephan had grown up around never spoke of. The one sticking in Stephan's head the most was the idea of the "glass roses" which had been portrayed one of the many stories that Leka told to Stephan. Leka was not like the other men who were always "spitting and urinating", and "spoke only when necessary", he showed Stephan that there are more then one way a man could be a man. The symbol of the glass roses symbolize fragility, and in Leka's story when the glass roses broke, the boys had to grow up and become men so quickly. Therefore Stephan's glass roses break when he becomes a man, and that's why Leka told him that story.