Saroyan Week ~ The Parsley Garden #3

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 #3

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:20 am

We have two questions today, Noodlemantras.

Why is Johnny Gale in the story?

What do you think is the moral of the story?
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 #3

Unread postby trygirl » Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Johnny Gale appears in the story to show Al what becomes of those who believe in hard work. Gale is considered the "fastest boxmaker in town" and everyone seems to respect him and the craft. Even the owner of the store was proud of him. Al definitely looks up to him and eventually says he doesn't want to disturb the man at his work. Saroyan uses Gale as a positive male in the boy's life. The character becomes a sort of imaginary father in Al's mind. The moral of the story could be the value of real accomplishment. The moral could be self worth is only accomplished with real work.
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Re: Saroyan Week ~ The Parsley Garden #3

Unread postby ladylinn » Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:59 am

I think that Johnny Gale is part of the story so Al can relate to someone who believes in hard work and in himself. Al seemed to look up to Johnny Gale.
The moral of the story could be - one must be true to himself to have respect of himself to achieve goals.

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Re: Saroyan Week ~ The Parsley Garden #3

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sat Nov 07, 2009 12:17 pm

ladylinn, I too thought Johnny Gale was the positive male role model that Al admired and aspired to be, father figure is a good way to say it, trygirl. If viewed as a coming of age story Al is caught between childhood (stealing the hammer) and adulthood (working for what you want). So the moral could be as you both suggest, becoming an adult, or a man, means owning up to your mistakes and taking control of your life by working for what you want.
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 #3

Unread postby sweetchia » Sat Nov 07, 2009 12:21 pm

Well, clearly Al admires Johnny. Johnny can build, create. He's very good at it. I think Al sees Johnny's talent for boxmaking as an art...sees him as an artist and admires him in the same way someone might admire the talent one has for painting or sculpting. In his small world, this guy can craft something with his own hands in a way no other person can. I think Al has that talent inside him...it's screaming to come out. Hence, the need to steal the hammer. He knew it was wrong, he knew he could work for it or save up for it or scrounge money for it, but he needed it now, right then, that moment. The need inside him to create and express was so strong, he disregarded what he knew to be wrong.
I think there's the clear and obvious moral about hard work and its value but I also think this is truly a comming of age story in that Al learns the difference between taking the easy road to get where you are going and taking a road perhaps longer and a bit bumpier. He could have taken the money from his mother to go buy the hammer and had what he wanted immediately, avoiding the humiliation of having to deal with those men at the store, but somewhere between stealing that hammer and going back to work for it, he became a man. A light went off...and he realized there was more value in facing your fears...more value in working for what you want, rather than taking a hand-out. He knew what he crafted would be truly of his own two hands and nobody elses. Because he worked with those hands to gain the hammer that he'd use to build. In taking the money from his mother he'd have stayed a child, but in going back to the store, facing the humiliation and working for that hammer, he became a man.
During a day, if you don’t make someone smile or feel good about himself, you’re not a man! I don’t think you’re fulfilling your part of the bargain as a human being - Johnny

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Re: Saroyan Week ~ The Parsley Garden #3

Unread postby sweetchia » Sat Nov 07, 2009 12:22 pm

Cross-posted with you DeepintheHeart...we are on the same page ;)
During a day, if you don’t make someone smile or feel good about himself, you’re not a man! I don’t think you’re fulfilling your part of the bargain as a human being - Johnny

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Re: Saroyan Week ~ The Parsley Garden #3

Unread postby Liz » Sat Nov 07, 2009 4:22 pm

I agree that he became a man by facing his humiliation and working for the hammer. But at the same time he was able to respect himself by not taking the job. He was going to make something of himself his way. So additionally, I would say that another point of the story is that one should follow his/her own path.
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Re: Saroyan Week ~ The Parsley Garden #3

Unread postby Storygirl » Sat Nov 07, 2009 7:13 pm

I agree with you Sweetchia , about the creative aspect of this. As I was thinking about the question of the title, I felt that the garden was important because gardens are, intrinsically, creative places. It is in the garden that both Al and his mother express their creativity. From the beginning of the story, Al has the creative urge lurking, latent, within him - he already has some wood; he has been collecting nails against the time of using them for something; when he sees the hammer, he believes that with he could make something - albeit he is unsure at the time just what that might be.

He watched Johnny Gale with admiration - here is a man putting his creative talents to good use, being the best at what he is good at; I think Al is inspired by that.

I also agree with all those who have said that Johnny represents a positive male influence in Al's life - something boys of his age need especially.

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Re: Saroyan Week ~ The Parsley Garden #3

Unread postby gemini » Sat Nov 07, 2009 8:27 pm

I wrote my post before reading everyone elses today but I see that I am in agreement with the group.

I think Johnny Gale was in the story as the person most admired by Al. He must have wanted to be just like him because Johnny was the fastest box maker in town. It was probably one of the reasons Al wanted the hammer so bad so he could become more like Johnny. I think he was embarrassed and his pride was hurt when he was caught stealing and he wanted to make it right. He worked all day to earn the hammer and left the dollar pay behind when he left because he wanted to show that he more than paid for his crime.
He didn't hang aroundwhlile Johnhy worked because he didn't want another humiliation to be from Johnny. To Al that would be a major humiliation and most likely fear of what Johnny thought led him to pay for his theft.
I think the moral was that there are no short cuts to attain your goals. You must put in the effort to become worthwhile.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers

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Re: Saroyan Week ~ The Parsley Garden #3

Unread postby Buster » Sun Nov 08, 2009 10:13 am

To me the story was about integrity.

Johnny Gale represented the man who. forced to work for others, maintained his dignity by being the best box maker around. He turned a menial job into an admirable process by perfecting it. (Remember what Axel's father said about work in Arizona Dream?)

Al refused to take a job that would compromise his own self image. When he didn't accept the shopkeeper's offer, he maintained his own autonomy. No job, no matter the salary, is worth selling out for.

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Re: Saroyan Week ~ The Parsley Garden #3

Unread postby Liz » Sun Nov 08, 2009 1:11 pm

Buster, perfect word! I like "integrity" because I think the word covers all that we've said and ties it all together.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: Saroyan Week ~ The Parsley Garden #3

Unread postby suec » Sun Nov 08, 2009 4:49 pm

What I love about this story is about the choices. Al does something wrong, but doesn't run away from it. he puts it right, and does so as magnificently as he possibley can. He couldn't possibly do any more to restore his self-respect. He shows there is no way out of something except through it.

But the last sentence of the story is still negative and the hatred hasn't gone. I think this is extremely significant. Damage has been done and I think there's a message too about how he has been treated by the men.
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Re: Saroyan Week ~ The Parsley Garden #3

Unread postby Liz » Sun Nov 08, 2009 5:04 pm

suec wrote:But the last sentence of the story is still negative and the hatred hasn't gone. I think this is extremely significant. Damage has been done and I think there's a message too about how he has been treated by the men.

Maybe a "memory" of Saroyan's that lives on for him in this story.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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