Social Characterism In The Glass Roses By Alden Nowlan

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Individuals may come across a moment in their lives where he/she will have to choose between their own interests or to conform to the norm of society. To some, the choice will be clear; others may feel conflicted where the choice will be unclear. In the short story, “The Glass Roses” by Alden Nowlan, Nowlan shows a sensitive individual’s reaction when experiencing difficulty while deciding between their self-interests or to integrate into society. Stephen, a young fifteen year old boy, suffers from being significantly different to those around him. As a result, he musters up both feelings to fit in his social environment and his own interests. Alden Nowlan develops the idea that individuals with a strong personal desire, but are stricken by the need to conform, may feel unsure to follow their own interests or to comply by the social norm.

Stephen, a young boy working as a pulp cutter, develops both a need and want to become a “man” like everyone else within the bunkhouse. He desperately needs to become man a due to his harsh environment. The weather he endures always rises to a “gale force” every night and the bunkhouse interior is best described as “sour”. However, the social environment creates a greater need for him to become a man. Every day he is socially isolated from the rest of the men. Whenever the men play cards, he is “watching” them in the dark. Whenever he goes to work, he gets paired up with the Polack; which makes Stephen a weak link within the group.

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