Death is a subject that everyone fears because they associate death with their end and not a new beginning. In The Stone Angel, by Margaret Laurence, Hagar is no different. When she faces the reality of the implications of growing old she is faced with a journey, not one of her choice but one of destiny. Through her journey Hagar goes through the five different stages leading up towards death: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. The novel demonstrates each of Hagar's steps along the difficult journey of death which is frightening and intimidating but also inevitable.
When Hagar is first faced with the truth that she is getting old and not going to be around much longer, her first reaction is one of denial. Hagar cannot believe that this is happening to her. In her mind she more or less associates death as a horrible nightmare of which she will eventually wake up and everything will be a dream and life will return back to normal. Hagar's denial can be seen when she describes herself: "Because I cannot remember doing it nor yet recall definitely not doing it...I become flustered" (Laurence, 30). Hagar's greatest difficulty is that her memory is failing her and this infuriates her more than anything else but it also allows her to create an illusion that everything will be fine. Hagar makes herself believe that this cannot be happening:
"Then, terribly, I perceive the tears, my own they must be although they have sprung so unbidden I feel they are like the incontinent wetness of the infirm. Trickling, they taunt down my face. I dismiss them, blaspheme against them - let them be gone. But I have spoken and they are still there" (Laurence, 31).
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...s woman, Hagar, who is determined to leave the world dependent on no one. Hagar does not want anyone to feel pity for her, mourn her or worry about her journey. Hagar accomplishes her goal, even though in the process she has to shatter her illusion and accept the harsh facts about life and reality. In the final scene, the reader obtains the message that Hagar has reached her independence when she holds the glass of water. As a result she can leave the world peacefully knowing that in the end she succeeded in freeing herself of any help. Hagar bravely survived her last moments with her heart and the reward of satisfaction. The reader, with the help of the author, can relate to Hagar's struggle through her journey, sympathizing with her, feeling her pain and keeping a part of her with them.
Laurence, Margaret. The Stone Angel. New York: Knopf, 1964
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