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Plot Develops The Meaning Of The Title In The Stone Angel

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Plot Develops The Meaning Of The Title In The Stone Angel

 

In The Stone Angel, Margaret Lawrence portrays a woman attempting to

understanding herself and her life. Hagar is the narrator of the book.

She is ninety, and is trying to avoid an old aged home where her son

Marvin, and Marvin’s wife Doris want to put her. During this her attempt

to move to Shadow Point and live alone, Hagar remembers the many parts

of her life and her life story is revealed to the reader in that

fashion. Hagar grew up in Manawaka, in the prairies. Hagar’s mother died

while giving birth to her, and her father Jason Currie had a great stone

angel brought from Italy at a great expense for Mrs. Currie’s grave.

Hagar had two brothers, Matt and Daniel. Daniel was a lazy boy, and was

very delicate physically. Daniel died at eighteen of pneumonia. Matt

intended to go to university, but Hagar was sent by her father. Matt

married, but never had children, and died of disease without putting up

a fight in his death bed. Hagar eventually goes to university and

returns to marry Brampton Shiptley, against her fathers’ will. At that

point she loses contact with her father. Hagar eventually regrets

marrying Bram, who often embarrasses her. Hagar and Bram have two boys,

Marvin and John. Hagar never really loves Marvin, and when he moves out,

she moves out with John. She loves him, and does everything for him.

They eventually return to Manawaka when  Brampton is dying. At that

point John is in love with Arlene, something Hagar does not understand

nor approve of. John tragically dies while performing a stunt while

drunk. Hagar moves to the coast, buys a house, and ends up living her

last days with Marvin and his wife Doris. Shortly before her death Hagar

realizes many things about herself. First of all that her heart is made

of stone, secondly that she has a lot of pride like her father, and

thirdly that she is blind, or in other words she can only see things

from one perspective, her own. These characteristics and those of the

stone angel, which was made of stone, was erected out of pride, and has

no eyes, are strikingly similar.

 

          Throughout Hagars recollection of the past there are many instances

where Hagar could not express her emotions. This is seen very early when

Hagars’ father punishes her and she refuses to cry in his presence. When

her brother Daniel is dying of pneumonia, Matt insists that Hagar

cradle him with her mothers’ shawl. Hagar wants to help her brother, but

can’t because it requires love. Another example of Hagar’s heart of

stone is that she is unable to tell her father that she feels that Matt

should be going to university instead of her. When Bram’s favorite horse

runs away and dies in a storm, Hagar shares Brams distress over the

death, but doesn’t admit it or attempt to soothe Bram. Only near the end

of her life does Hagar show her emotions by telling Marvin she is

frightened, but remains ashamed to have revealed her emotions. At this

point Hagar realizes that her heart is made of stone, and that she has

been hard and has never opened up to anyone, like the stone angel. The

stone angel was brought from Italy, as a symbol of the Currie family’s

pride, and not as much to honor Mrs. Currie. Jason Currie has incredible

pride, and upon his death leaves his money to the city so that he would

be remembered. Hagar has inherited this pride. Because of this pride

Hagar doesn’t accept John and Arlene’s love, because of Arlene’s

background. Hagar never loves her son Marvin neither, because he is not

the type of son she wants. Hagar is also cold with Lottie and Mrs.

Jardine upon meeting them, because of her pride. Because of this pride

Hagar is also blind, for she can only see things from her perspective.

She cannot see that her son loves Arlene, she only sees Arlenes

background. Hagar can’t see that Lottie is in a similar situation as

herself either because she is blind. Murray Lee helps Hagar discover

this and helps her open up a little. Hagar’s blindness is comparable to

the stone angel because the stone angel never had any eyes carved into

it. Hagar’s cold emotional state, her pride, and her blindness are very

similar to those qualities in the stone angel.

 

          Hagar’s understanding of herself grows a lot during the last days of

her life as she reminisces of the past and spends time with many people.

Her life story is not tragic, but her main bad qualities of being cold

emotionally, her great pride which in turn caused her blindness, are

revealed to her through out her recollection of her life and throughout

the plot. Hagar realizes these things, but it is too late to change.

These characteristics revealed through out the story describe the stone

angel.

 

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