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The Glass Roses by Alden Nowlan Essay - Just One Ocean

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Oftentimes in life, an individual’s ideologies are affected by the experiences that they acquire from others. The protagonist of the story Stephen is a very dynamic character and perplexed about his true nature and identity. He works as a pulp cutter and is conflicted between his father’s ideology of masculinity and his own identity. His struggle to figure out his own beliefs and values are being represented by symbolism throughout the story. He confronts with a decision of fulfilling his father’s expectations of being a strong man or to accomplish his own desires. Stephen’s course of action initiates to change from the moment he made contact with Leka. The glass roses that Leka explicates to Stephen symbolizes Stephen’s humanity, innocence and his desire to experience the world. The destruction of the glass roses by a bomb represents how Stephen is squeezed by the thoughts that he is not a man of his father’s characteristics and is physically weak. He wants to be a part of the patriarchal society and establish the same status for him as his father and other men in his community holds. However, he also does not want to lose his childhood beliefs and innocence.

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Therefore, Leka wants to protect Stephen from losing his identity due to the constant pressure by his father’s beliefs which is evident by the quote “She wouldn’t let anyone touch it”, which proves that he does not want Stephen to just become a lumberjack and let others make decisions for him. He wants him to realize how having your own ideas and beliefs can also be delightful simliar to his mother’s glass roses even though there is not enough space for that in the world. He does not want Stephen to be influenced by his father’s stereotypical beliefs which henceforth can cause him to eventually be confused about his identity. He wants him to be aware of his beauty of emotions and what it actually means to be “grown-up” than just physically strong. Furthermore, the axe is one of the important symbols which prohibits Leka and Stephen from being recognized as a man. The axe represents Stephen’s adulthood like how Stephen was trying to be a strong man which makes him feel like a clown and ridiculous. His attempts to be a woodcutter made him neither physically nor mentally prepared to work as a mature man which is evident by the phenomenon “In using the axe, he was pretending to be something he wasn’t, something that he might never be”, proves that he was losing his identity just to be a man like his father’s characteristics. The axe is what constantly reminded Stephen that he is not as strong as other men which held him back from being a man. Nightmares in the story also play a huge role in the change in Stephen’s character. When he wakes up Leka from the nightmare, in the beginning, represents how he wants to be a positive and satisfying soul.

Although, in the end, he confronts his father and chooses the path exhibited by Leka. Moreover, Leka makes Stephen realize that there is nothing wrong with being emotional in fact, it is more important to be mentally strong than physically strong. Leka’s influence in his life changed his perspectives and ideology towards being a man and he decides to be his own innovative individual by choosing childhood over adulthood.

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