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The Glass Roses - Alden Nowlan
Transcript of The Glass Roses - Alden Nowlan
The short story is focused on Stephen, a fifteen year old that is conflicted with his fathers idea of how he should act, and how he wants to be
Stephen wants to fill both his childhood and to become a true man in his fathers eyes
He discovers through Leka, a foreigner, that he is forced to work with, that being your own individual is more important than the stereotypes others set out for you.
Only sees being a true man with the characteristics that his father has modeled for him
Wants to be accepted among the other men but understands he doesn't correspond with their characteristics
He sees things in a different light & doesn't value hard manual work the way his father does
Can't decide what kind of man to become- if his fathers vision of a man is really the true meaning of it
Typical "Man" stereotype
Doesn't show emotion or compassion towards his son
Sees strength in only a physical manner
Interacts with other men that work at the pulp mill-they all have the same identity & don't know another way to represent their masculinity
Very narrow minded about how his own son should behave and be judged by others
Concludes that anyone that doesn't fall under this stereotype is not consider masculine.
Stephen vs. His Father
Leka (The Polack)
Is from Ukraine & has endured effects of the WWII
Completely different culture and background- slight language barrier
Accepts Stephen and shows him his cultural difference of masculinity
Persecuted for differences and all the while stills shows compassion for Stephen and is open-minded to their different views
Physically weaker and shows emotion
Isn't affected by others judgements towards him
(this is what he shows and teaches Stephen)
Discriminates against Leka because he is different and is friendly to his son
Doesn't understand Leka's perspective of a man
Proves this by telling Stephen that if he hears Leka touches Stephen (harmlessly) he will "kick the guts outta him"
His attitude towards others that do not fit in the stereotypes he sees reflects his persona
Leka vs. Stephen's Father
Leka & Stephen
* In the end of the story, after Stephens gesture of waking Leka up from his nightmare the reader is shown that despite differences those from different cultures are able to surpass differences despitre stereotypes that they are given*
Because he comes from another country that explores a completely different lifestyle than the one portrayed by the men at the pulp mill he is able to be himself without the worry of what other perceive of him
Isn't ashamed of himself of his past
Concrete Idea of who he is and how he treats others
Has to debate if he should represent what hes expected of him vs what he prefers
Due to his age he doesn't know himself yet but understands the difference between being something you're not in comparison to what you want to be
It's only after the talk with his father that Stephen realizes that he is the only person that truly has control over his own actions. In some parts of the story we see Stephen try and be the "man" his father expects him to be. Such as when he insists on having no help with the saw & his feelings of guilt for wanting to hear the interesting stories of Leka's homeland in Europe. It was crucial for Stephen to have the talk with his father when he did because despite all his own effort to be like his father, in doing so it truly made Stephen realize that he would rather be true to himself than a stereotype.
Stephen's Character change was provoked not only by his father obscene effort to make him a man but also by Leka's actions in comparison to his father's. Leka's approach on life, especially after seeing some war and having his brother die, is positive and carefree to judgements of others. Leka, although doesn't have the physical strength of a "man" it is evident that he has the strength to start a new life in a new country to overcome a huge language and cultural barrier This reflects the seemingly unimportance of being a "man" that Stephen's father is so concerned about. Stephen can see that even through hardships it is possible to be free and unconcerned with issues so small as being confined to a single point of view when, in the end, it means nothing to have been physically strong or cool amongst your peers. In the end all that matters is how you treat other and what makes you happy in terms or how you represent yourself as an individual.
Stephen is the character who undergoes the change throughout the story, which is what determines his decision to grow up by being his own person
Initially after the confrontation with his father in the tool shed, we as readers are left with the impression that Stephen understands his fathers position on Leka. He doesn't objectify him and it seems as if he is willing to modify his own behavior to please his father. It isn't until the Polack is having nightmares about WWll that we see Stephen decide to be his own individual regardless of his Father's opinion. Stephen, just like the start of the story, chooses to wake Leka up.
"The more he observed the easy strength of these men,the oftener he worked himself into aching exaustion at the end of a pulp saw, the more certain he was that he could never become a man."
"in using the ax, he was pretending to be something he was not, something he might never be."
"when the polack began to tremble and moan,Stephen hesitated for a long time before he reached to wake him."
"You gotta start actin' like a man if you want to hold down a man's job.There ain't no room for kids in the pulp woods."
"Them whops and bohunks and polacks gotta lotta funny ideas.they ain't out kinda people. you gotta watch them."
**"there is not much room in this world for glass roses."**
"You try too hard kid, you act as if the saw were the most important thing in the world."
Quotes: Stephen's Father
Quotes: The Polack
Glass Roses symbolism
The glass roses symbolize what it was like to be a child, and through tough times, the childhood shatters, and you learn what it really means to be a "grown-up"
How long should a child follow in their parents' footsteps before becoming their own individual?
"The axe made him feel stupid and ridiculous..."
At both the beginning and end Stephen wakes Leka from nightmares
In the beginning, Stephen wanted to be a good person whereas in the end he was defying his father by choosing childhood over adulthood, following in the footsteps of Leka, and becoming his own creative individual self.
"In using the axe, he was pretending to be something he is not, something he might never be."
Stephen doesn't want to grow up, therefor his wielding of the axe makes him feel like a clown