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The Parsley Garden

By Justin Leong

Justin Leong

on 14 February 2017

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Transcript of The Parsley Garden

The Parsley Garden
A Short Story by: William Saroyan
By: Justin Leong
In August
Woolworth store
About 1940-1950
Hall that lead to an Alley
In Front of Graf’s Hardware Store
Character Analysis
Al Condraj

Character Analysis

The setting in this short story takes place in Fresno sometime between the 1940’s and 1950’s. It was during the month of August when Al Condraj stole a hammer from Woolworth’s. Al Condraj was kicked out of Woolworths and he hurried out down the hallway that lead out to an alley. As Al Condraj was walking home he past Graf’s Hardware. Al Condraj went through his vegetable garden and walked inside his house. He then wandered off along the railroad tracks to Foley’s to watch Johnny Gale nailing boxes for a bit. After that, Al Condraj went back to town and observed the displayed photographs at the Hippodrome. After observing the displayed pictures he went to the public library to look at books. Then he went home and went to bed.

Al Condraj's home
Railroad tracks
At Foley
Character Journal
My Reflection
Al Condraj found thrown away nails and wood. The materials that he found had no money value to anyone but had value to him. He figured it would be a waste not to use the materials so he took it to use later. With these materials Al Condraj wanted to make something but he needed a hammer to utilise the nails.
Rising Action
When Al Condraj enters Woolworth’s.
The rising action starts when Al Condraj thinks about making something and needs a hammer to do this.
He finds a hammer in the store and puts it in his pocket.
He gets caught by a young worker and is escorted to the back office.
When Al Condraj gets caught and he doesn’t know what they will do with him.
Al Condraj is nervously waiting in the office with the employee who caught him and the boss of the store.
The employee threatens Al and then leaves Al with the manager.
The manager ignores Al for 15 minutes and then goes through the usual steps when dealing with a shoplifter.
Falling Action
When Al gets let go and the store manager doesn’t press charges on him.
Al thinks about different scenarios that will help him deal with his feelings of embarrassment.
Al thinks about, defiance, revenge, violence, confessing to his mom, then working for it.
Al Condraj works at the store and earns himself a hammer.
Al shows the two men that he is a hard worker.
He declines the job offer from the store.
Al makes his bench and feels good about himself.
Al Condraj is in control of his own destiny.

There are a couple themes in this short story. One theme is your self identity, how you view yourself. The other theme is about ownership, how you can obtain an item such as a hammer in a store.

First Theme
He is a child and as a child he has only experienced a fraction of what an adult has, meaning he has probably not learned the evils of men yet. He knows he is not a criminal but he was shocked and embarrassed to be treated as one. He is struggling with his new experience of stealing, he knows it was wrong and he debates with himself on how to fix this situation. Does he go back and steal the hammer because he has already been labeled a criminal? Or does he get some money and come back to the store like the manager wants? Al compromises and works at the store really hard and shows the two men that he is a good kid, he then refuses the money and job offer to prove to himself that he is in control of his own life and situation.

Second Theme
The second theme is ownership. In this type of society, in order to own something you need to exchange that item for money. This is what Al Condraj is struggling to understand. You can’t just take something without paying for it, that would be called stealing. Al Condraj just wants to build something nice for his mother and himself to use but he needed a hammer. He didn’t think about buying the hammer until the boss told him if you don’t have money don’t come back. However, Al Condraj believed he should still get the hammer and thought about the different ways of doing it by himself. To own the hammer he could either steal it again, tell his mother and have her pay for it, find it on the street as a thrown out piece of garbage, or finally work for it at Woolworths.
Al Condraj is the main character. He plays the protagonist and is a round character in this short story. He is an eleven year old boy who was humiliated from the consequences of stealing the hammer. Al Condraj is seen as a young boy who has ideas and creativity. All he wanted to do was build something using his box of collected nails and scrap wood. However, he needed a hammer to put the wood and nails together. Al Condraj contributed to the plot because he plays the victim and culprit for stealing a hammer from the Woolworth’s store. Throughout most of the short story he has internal conflicts with himself. For example, one internal conflict is his fight to regain his pride and his self identity for himself. He doesn’t want to be a criminal because he probably is a good boy but in his mind he was just labeled a thief from the boss of the store.

Mr. Clemmer
Mr. Clemmer is an older man who is the boss and manager of Woolworth. He is an antagonist and a flat character. Mr. Clemmer contributes to the plot because he was the one that further humiliated Al Condraj, thus Mr. Clemmer added to the conflict with Al Condraj. He has caused unintentional suffering for Al Condraj because that’s how this society works. Mr. Clemmer is the one that took away Al Condraj’s pride. Now Al Condraj needs to get it back from Mr. Clemmer.

The Younger Worker
The young worker is an employee who works at Woolworth. He is an antagonist and a flat character. The young worker started the conflict with Al Condraj when he caught him stealing from the store. The young worker was very mean to Al Condraj. While he took him into the boss’s office, he asked the boss if they should hit Al Condraj’s head with the hammer that he stole. At the end he saw that Al Condraj is a hard worker and this probably changed the view of how he looked at him. Instead of looking at him as if he was a thief, he now looked at him as a hardworking kid. He even asked the boss to give him a silver dollar and a job. This character contributes to the plot because he is the one who started the conflict when he caught Al Condraj for stealing.
Al Condraj's Mother
Johnny Gale
Pete Wawcheck
Leeza Ahboot
The mother is Al Condraj’s mother. She is an important minor character and a flat character. She is a hardworking single mom that tries her best to raise and provide for her son. She works hard in the summer so the money she makes can last them the year. She works by picking, harvesting, and packing fruits and vegetables. When this character does not know what to say to Al Condraj, she just says “Shut up” to him. She contributes to the plot because she is the one telling Al Condraj not to steal. She even gives him money to buy the hammer. Al Condraj refused to take the money from his mom and decides to work at Woolworths in exchange for the hammer. I think she is important to the plot because she gives Al Condraj a chance to voice out his feelings and emotions.

Pete Wawcheck is Al Condraj’s friend. He is a minor character. Pete Wawcheck was in front of Graf’s Hardware store and when he encounterd Al Condraj. Al ignored by him because he was too distracted from being caught stealing a hammer.

Johnny Gale is a box maker. Some people in Fresno says he the fastest box maker there is. Johnny Gale is a minor character. He contributes to the plot because Al Condraj considered him as a nice guy and maybe a friend, he respects Johnny and did not want to get in his way while he worked.

Leeza Ahboot is the neighbour of Al Condraj and lives across the street. Leeza Ahboot and Al Condraj’s mother are friends. They worked together and they had supper together. Leeza Ahboot is a minor character. She contributes to the plot because she hangs out with the mother of Al Condraj.

Foley owns the store “Foley’s”. Foley is a minor character who is proud of Johnny Gale. His relationship to the plot shows us there will be someone who is proud of you.

Ondro is a minor character. Ondro is the neighbourhood’s handyman. He was mentioned in the short story when he charged the mother fifteen cents for making the chairs that go around the table in the summer.

The tone of this short story is bewilderment, anger, shame, and happily content. At the beginning of the short story the tone is bewilderment when the boy got caught by the young worker for stealing the hammer. The boy was confused because he didn’t mean to steal the hammer. While Al Condraj was in the office with the boss the tone started to turn with anger. Al Condraj was filled with anger because he hated the two men and he didn’t know what they were going to do with him. According to Al Condraj they had humiliated him and that is why the tone was anger. The tone turned to shame when Al Condraj felt bad for taking the hammer. Al Condraj understood why the two men at the store did what they did. He just felt that the two men did not have to humiliate him so much. Then at the end of the short story the tone transitioned to happily content. The story turned happily content when Al Condraj got his redemption back. He got his pride back by refusing the silver dollar and not accepting the job offer. Also he received a hammer for all his hard work. Now Al Condraj can build whatever he wanted using his wood and nails. Al Condraj is now happy with what he could do with this new hammer he got from Woolworths.

Box of nails and wood
The choice of refusing the silver dollar
The parsley symbolizes calmness. In the short story Al Condraj has a garden with section that has parsley growing in it. When Al Condraj is in the parsley garden it calms him down. In the parsley garden it tends to be quiet and peaceful. Al Condraj eats the parsley to relax himself a little bit.

The hammer symbolizes creativity. Using the materials (A box of nails and wood) that Al Condraj already had, he used creativity to build something. Over the summer Al Condraj got bored so he wanted to stimulate his mind and build something. Once Al Condraj received his hammer from the store he ventured home to his back yard. Al Condraj has used creativity to build himself a bench. With this bench Al Condraj can sit on it and glare upon the parsley garden.

The box of nails and wood symbolizes potential. When Al Condraj had the box of nails and wood he wanted to build something with it. He didn’t know what he was going to build but he knew it was going to be something good using the nails and wood. He needed a hammer first if he wanted to start being creative.

This symbolizes the boy winning and regaining his dignity again. To make Al Condraj feel better about himself by regaining his pride, he refused to take the silver dollar and passes up the job opportunity.

As I was flipping through the pages I found a short story that eventually appealed to me. I first read the title “The Parsley Garden.” My first thoughts running through my mind was this story was mainly about parsley. I thought this short story was on how to grow parsley. Then I read the short description under the title and it was very thought provoking. I now wanted to read this short story because the short discription told me that there is a boy seeking revenge from humiliation. I wanted to find clues or answers on why the boy wanted revenge. After reading this short story, I personally enjoyed it. This showed me an example of a consequence for shoplifting. Also it showed me that hard work usually pays off, such as job raises and job opportunities. I liked how Al Conraj worked for the hammer. Even though he hated the two men at the store, he dealt with them to get his hammer. Sometimes you need to deal with things even though they may still bug you. Sometimes you can’t always have it your way.

I really miss my father. I have no one to talk to about my life problems. I miss you father, I’m sorry they had to take you away. Stupid war took my father. I’m sure my daddy will come back from the war. I’m sad we had to leave from India but my mom wanted me to have a better life here in America.

Yesterday was one of the hardest challenges I had to faced since I left India. I had a box of nails and a pile of wood. It was hot and boring, so I went to Woolworth’s to borrow a hammer. The store smelled like pine trees mixed with cedar trees. I thought it smelled weird, it gave me a headache. I chose the perfect hammer and I placed it in my pocket. As I was about to walk out there was this clammy hand that grabbed me by the shoulder. I’m guessing the worker was about twenty five years old. He took me into this room where there was this older man about sixty years old. He told me he was the boss and manager of this store. He kept babbling off to me asking me if I wanted to go to prison. He told me to leave his store and never come back unless I had money. He told me to exit through the hallway that lead to the alley. I hated the two men working in the store so much. I just wanted to throw them in jail and get them in trouble for humiliating me.

I never meant to steal the hammer, I was just going to borrow the hammer and then return the hammer once I was done building my bench. I told mom and she got upset with me. So to make things better I decided to work at Woolworth’s to show them I was sorry. I worked a long shift and it was worth it. They gave me a nice brand new hammer and a dollar for all my hard work. They also offered me a job to work there for them. I declined the job because I still hated them and I left the dollar on Mr. Clemmer’s desk. I just wanted the hammer and I left the dollar on the desk because instead of sucking up to them i got my dignity back. From that day I didn’t feel humiliated anymore.

Sunday, August 12, 1945
“After supper she would attach the water hose to the faucet and water her plants and the place would be cooler than ever and it would smell real good, real fresh and cool and green, all the different growing things making a green-garden smell out themselves and the air and the water.”
(Saroyan, page 75)

This quote represents the garden of Al Condraj’s backyard.

Al Condraj
Mr. Clemmer

The Young Worker
“Al went out and sat on the steps. His humiliation was beginning to really hurt now. He decided to wander off along the railroad tracks to Foley’s because he needed to think about it some more”
(Saroyan, page 75)

“I ought to hit you over the head with it, that’s what I ought to do.”
(Saroyan, page 73)

“Go out this way and don’t come back to this store until you’ve got some money to spend.”
(Saroyan, page 73)

Johnny Gale
Pete Wawcheck
Leeza Ahboot


“Let us work until the work stops, then we’ll go home and fix a supper between us and eat it in your parsley garden where it’s so cool. It’s a hot day and there’s no sense not making an extra fifty or sixty cents.”
(Saroyan, page 77)
Leeza Ahboot tells Al’s mother they should keep working until work is done to make more money.
“Johnny worked with a boxmaker's hatchet and everybody in Fresno said he was the fastest boxmaker in town. He was the closest thing to a machine and packing house ever saw.”
(Saroyan, page 75)
This quote shows us Johnny Gale is a fast worker.
“Every night in the summer she would bring chairs out of the house and put them around a table she had Ondro, the neighborhood handyman, make for her for fifteen cents.”
(Saroyan, page 74)
This quote shows that Ondro the neighborhood’s handyman made chairs for Al’s mother for fifteen cents.

“I don’t want you to steal. Here is ten cents. You go back to that man and give him this money and you bring it home, that hammer.”
(Saroyan, page 75)
The mom is telling Al Condraj it’s wrong to steal and gives him some money to buy a hammer.

“Foley himself was proud of Johnny”
(Saroyan, page 75)
This quote tells us that Foley is proud of Johnny Gale for all his hard work.
“His mind so troubled that he didn’t greet his pal Pete Wawcheck when they came face to face outside of Graf’s Hardware.”
(Saroyan, page 74 )
Al Condraj ignored his friend Pete Wawcheck because he was emotional due to the humiliation at Woolworth’s.
This quote shows that Al Condraj is trying to find a solution for his internal conflict.
This is Mr. Clemmer the boss of the store telling Al Condraj to leave the store and come back once he the money to spend.
This is the young worker telling Al Condraj that he would hit him in the head with the stolen hammer
Rising Action

Falling Action
“Well, what am I going to do with you? Hand you over to the police?”
(Saroyan, page 73)
Al Condraj is very nervous that Mr. Clemmer will give him to the police.
“At any rate he took the hammer and slipped it into the pocket of his overalls, but just as he did so a man took him firmly by the arm without a word and pushed him to the back of the store into a small office.”
(Saroyan, page 71)
The young man escorts Al Condraj to the back office for shoplifting.

“If I let you go, will you promise never to steal from this store again?”
(Saroyan, page 73)
Mr. Clemmer let Al Condraj go and gave him another chance to not steal from Woolworth.
“I worked all day. Mr. Clemmer gave me the hammer after I'd worked one hour, but I went on working. The fellow who caught me yesterday showed me what to do, and we worked together. We didn’t talk, but at the end of the day he took me to Mr. Clemmer’s office and he told Mr. Clemmer that I’d worked hard all day and ought to be paid at least a dollar.”
(Saroyan, page 78)
Al Condraj tells his mother he worked a few hours at Woolworth’s that earned himself a hammer and a job offer.
“One day in August Al Condraj was wandering through Woolworth’s without a penny to spend when he saw a small hammer that was not a toy but a real hammer and he was possessed with a longing to have it.”
(Saroyan, page 71)
This quote tells the readers that Al Condraj was looking at a small hammer and really wanted it but he had no money.
“I didn’t mean to steal it. I just need it and I haven’t got any money.”
(Saroyan, page 73)
Al Condraj did not mean to steal the hammer. He just doesn’t know the importance of money to buy things. All he knows is that he needs the hammer to complete his project.
“Then, crushed and confused and now bitterly ashamed of himself, first for having stolen something, then for having been caught, then for having been humiliated, then for not having guts enough to go back and do the job right.”
(Saroyan, page 74)
Al Condraj is embarrassed and guilty for his actions at Woolworth’s.
“Because I hate both of them, I would never work for people like that. I just looked at them and picked up my hammer and walked out.”
(Saroyan, page 78)
Al Condraj would not take the silver dollar and the job offer because he hated the two men at Woolworth’s.

“Now, with the ten-cent hammer he believed he could make something out of box wood and nails, although he had no idea what. Some sort of a table perhaps, or a small bench.”
(Saroyan, page 71)
This quote tells us that once Al Condraj has a hammer he could build something using his scrap wood and nails.
“He believed it was just what he needed by which to break the monotony and with which to make something”
(Saroyan, page 71)
This quote shows that Al Condraj really wanted to use the hammer.
“After the long drink of water he sat down where the parsley itself was growing and he pulled a handful of it out and slowly ate it.”
(Saroyan, page 75)
Al Condraj was eating parsley and calming down in his garden.
Box of Nails and Wood
The choice of refusing the Silver Dollar
My Daddy flew in a plane!
Full transcript