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Stella Karamanlis
Stella in Melbourne


Claire Van Der Boom







Stella Karamanlis is a minor character who appears as Robert Leckie's love interest in Melbourne. After being stationed in a stadium on leave after the battle of Guadalcanal.


Stella's family escaped the Turkish city of Izmir (the ancient Greek city of Smyrna) when the long-established Greek and Armenian sections were burned following three years of Greek occupation after Turkish forces recaptured it in 1922 at the end of the Greco-Turkish war. They settled in Melbourne at some time thereafter, having raised Stella in the city, before the USMC 1st Marine Division arrived following Guadalcanal.

Meeting Leckie[]

She is first seen by Leckie boarding a tram. Once on board, he finds his lady but trips and falls at her feet as the boys, who have jumped in behind him, laugh. "Proposing already?" she asks playfully. He replies that he's proposing that she takes a walk with him, and she asks coyly if he knows what take a walk means. (In Australia, it means you are telling someone to go away.) He looks at the faces of the ladies around her and blushes as they giggle to themselves. He begs her forgiveness by way of explaining that he's a foreigner. She's bowled over by his romantic gesture. "You're a bold one sotted," she says, writing down her address and instructing him to collect her from home. As she gets off the tram she turns and says, "I'm Stella, in case you're wondering what to call me." A joyful Leckie bows and grins. Juergens commends him on his guts, and thanks him. "That made my night!" he says.


Sometime later, Leckie calls on Stella. He picks a rose from a nearby garden and, as she opens the door, introduces himself as Bob. "I hope you're hungry," she says with a smile, and welcomes him in. She introduces him to her father and mother, Mama and Baba Karamanlis. Stella warns her mother in Greek that he picked the neighbor's roses. Her mother doesn't react but instead tut-tuts over how skinny Leckie is. They sit him down and proceed to lay a feast before him that rivals American Thanksgiving.

When Stella goes to the kitchen to get more food, Leckie asks Mama about how she came from Greece to Australia. She reveals that when her home was sacked by the Turks, she escaped to a dock, swam to a passing ship and eventually ended up in Australia. She remarks with a good bit of sadness that her home is gone but brightly adds she's managed to work and find love in this new place. In exchange she asks Leckie about his home and he jokes that he escaped the Leckie household. Leckie tells her that he came from a family of five girls and three boys, that his mother was nearly 40 when he came along. He said he was last -- "last is least." Mama, who thinks of such a big family as a blessing, disagrees. She says that Stella is her only blessing, that she prayed for more but it didn't happen.

Houseguest and Lovebirds[]

Mama asks where the Marines are staying and when he tells her about their camp in the stadium, she insists that he stay in their guest room. Leckie says he can never repay them, and Baba says that he can help clear vines from the roof. That night, Leckie is struggling to sleep when Stella sneaks into the room. To Leckie's great surprise, she disrobes, gets in bed with him and they have sex.

As they lay together afterward, she asks Leckie why he fled his family. He says they're not a happy bunch. She asks if his brothers went into the service too, and he reveals that one was too old, and the other died. His father's been crippled in his head ever since, he says. Stella reveals she had a brother, but he died when he was a baby. Her mother got sick and couldn't have anymore. Leckie strokes her arm sympathetically.

The next day as Stella and her mother work in the garden Leckie, who is on the roof clearing vines, sits down for a moment and drinks in the sight: Mama folding laundry, Stella looking up at him and smiling as she sorts the vegetables. He takes a sip from a bottle of water and, for a moment, looks content.

Stella and Leckie have sex again in a field through Stellas skirt and Leckies open fly, and he gives her gifts: real silk stockings and a leg of lamb. He roasts the lamb over a barbecue spit later in the Karamanlis' backyard, whereupon Baba Karamanlis reads in the newspaper that a childhood friend of Stella was killed in action. They decide to visit the family to pay respect to her friend.

Stella and her family head over to the fallen soldier's home, where neighbors are gathered to honor the boy. That night, Leckie lays in bed and plays with his dog tags. Stella peeks her head in and he looks hopeful but she tells him that her mother is still up.

Leckie puts on his clothes and goes out to talk to her. Mama tells him the Greek boys are gone, all the boys Stella grew up with. Mama asks if he goes to church, and he tells her he's Catholic. Mama tells Bob that they need prayers. She goes on to say that they're lucky to have him in the house, that they always wanted a son like him. She says that she's going to pray that he comes back to them. "That's a good thing to pray for," Leckie tells her. She gets up and gently squeezes his shoulder as she heads back inside. Stella, eavesdropping on them from a window, suddenly looks sad.

Break Up[]

Days later, Leckie returns to the stadium worn out. Leckie dons his dress uniform and returns to Stella, who waits for him on her stoop and has a strange expression on her face. She tells him that he has to go away and never come back. She says she's told Mama and Baba that he got his orders and he couldn't say goodbye.

"You lied," Leckie says.

Stella looks at him sadly and says, "I'm fairly crazy about you, Robert. I think you know that." But, she continues, she doesn't want to have a baby with him. She says that she's not pregnant, but that she and Leckie aren't going to have a family, and they're not getting married, and he's never coming back to Melbourne. He's flabbergasted. She's dumping him because she thinks he's going to get killed.

"Bob, if you don't come back to us, I don't just lose you. Mama does too. I can't do that to her, and I won't let you," Stella tells him.

As he turns to go she adds that Mama has lost so much already, and she's praying for him to come back to them. "She can save her breath," Bob snaps at her. He walks away as Stella starts to weep.


Stella is based on Sheila, Leckie's real love interest in Melbourne. In reality, Chuckler also stayed with Sheila, and the relationship between Sheila and Leckie in fact did not last long and Leckie never actually had a heartbreak.

  • In Australia, particularly in the 1940's when people were polite, the phrase "take a walk", usually expressed as "[you can] go take a walk" meant go away and do not bother me again, it would not be unusual to hear that phrase used in that context today. There may be other meanings local to Melbourne at the time, but not that very known.

See Also[]

Part Three