Saroyan Week ~ The Parsley Garden #1 ~ Al

by Edgar Allen Poe, William Saroyan, Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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Saroyan Week ~ The Parsley Garden #1 ~ Al

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Nov 05, 2009 8:48 am

Today we move on to one of Saroyan's short stories, The Parsley Garden. Click on the link below to read the story.

Click below to read “The Parsley Garden”:




Why did Al react so strongly to being caught stealing the hammer? Why didn’t Al take the job?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!

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Re: Saroyan Week ~ The Parsley Garden #1 ~ Al

Unread postby sweetchia » Thu Nov 05, 2009 11:16 am

I think his reaction, both in being so angry and in rejecting the job, was out of shame. I think he was deeply angry with himself and turned part of that anger on the men who caught him. He was also humiliated. He knew they had every right to repremand him, but they humiliated him and as a child, you can't always logically separate out your emotions. A parent will scold you for crossing the street in heavy traffic and you will run away crying you hate them. Children react in feeling first. He was still young enough to feel the sting of being repremanded, but old enough to feel the guilt for something he knew at his core was wrong. I think the deep shame of what he did made it difficult for him to ever look those men in the face again, so he rejected the job, wanting just to get out of there as fast as he could. And he would hold that anger for them, because the humiliation and shame were that deeply rooted.
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Re: Saroyan Week ~ The Parsley Garden #1 ~ Al

Unread postby nebraska » Thu Nov 05, 2009 12:33 pm

I agree with Sweetchia. Very well said!

I think if he had taken the job it would have also meant a feeling of defeat on top of the shame, letting the men "win" a battle of pride. The job would have been good, but it would have hurt every time he went to work.

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Re: Saroyan Week ~ The Parsley Garden #1 ~ Al

Unread postby trygirl » Thu Nov 05, 2009 1:24 pm

I agree with both Sweetchia and Nebraska. Poor Al just couldn't handle being reprimanded by the men. And then to add insult to injury, forced to endure in silence while awaiting his punishment. It amounts to wounded pride. By refusing the job, he takes back a little a self-respect. He can stop beating himself up about his failure.
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Re: Saroyan Week ~ The Parsley Garden #1 ~ Al

Unread postby ladylinn » Thu Nov 05, 2009 4:00 pm

I agree with everyone's thoughts on Al. I do believe that Al knew he had done wrong - but his pride got in the way of him admiting it. He was definately ashamed and humiliated by the men - but he was able to return and face them and show them that he could work to try and regain his pride. He perhaps didn't accept the job because he would have to face his mistake each day.

Also his poor hard working mom could have helped Al understand his mistake and show him how to handle his humiliation. But she can't be faulted for working so hard to keep food on the table.

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Re: Saroyan Week ~ The Parsley Garden #1 ~ Al

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:49 pm

I agree with everyone's ideas so far. I was wondering if his mom's limited vocabulary (as well as her long hours) could have been part of the reason that she didn't help him work through it. Or it could have been cultural in the way children were taught lessons or because he was a male? Maybe if a father had been there he would have stepped into help.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Re: Saroyan Week ~ The Parsley Garden #1 ~ Al

Unread postby gemini » Thu Nov 05, 2009 10:46 pm

As with other Saroyan writings his story describes the poverty in life and how it looks from a child's point of view. I agree with everything you ladies said about Al being embarrassed and humiliated and even that his pride was hurt. It is a male thing to feel self respect among other men and his was hurt not only by being caught in a foolish act but by being poor.

I think he worked the day to earn the hammer to salvage his pride for the theft but he couldn't overcome even their kindness which he must have felt was because of his poverty. Even though in reality the store management may have been attempting to help the boy, he felt that working for the people who knew he stole would be like accepting charity.
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Re: Saroyan Week ~ The Parsley Garden #1 ~ Al

Unread postby Buster » Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:43 am

By not taking the job, he regained his sovereignty over his own life. He had let himself down by stealing, and then was humiliated by the condescending (though well-intended) attitude of the storekeeper.
Personally, I'd rather be hit than patronized.

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Re: Saroyan Week ~ The Parsley Garden #1 ~ Al

Unread postby Liz » Fri Nov 06, 2009 11:01 am

I agree with all of you, that it had to do with his pride. He was humiliated by being caught and then embarrassed by their condescending attitudes. He worked the one day to prove that he could make up for his transgression. But that was the end of it because he wanted nothing to do with them after that. And I think that was all about pride.

I agree with DITHOT that his mother’s limited vocabulary was a hindrance to her being able to counsel her son. I’m not even sure if she understood what was going on. When she didn’t know what to say she’d say, “shut up”.
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Re: Saroyan Week ~ The Parsley Garden #1 ~ Al

Unread postby suec » Sun Nov 08, 2009 4:06 pm

When I reminded Saroyan's account of why he wrote, he reminded me of Al: Specifically, I was troubled by the sorrow of it (memory)... I refused to accept the theory that things end... I felt impelled to do something... I began to write in order to get even on death."

Al is similar in the way he is troubled and refuses to accept the situation, and has to act.

I agree wth Buster, really. I think it was the manner of the way he was tretaed as much as the knowledge of what he had done. No-one likes being humiliated and treated with contempt. And being made to stand waiting for 15 minutes qualifies as that in my book, even if he wasn't reported to the police in the end. Such treatment is withering and stays with you. The recipient does hate it.
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