Stubborn Pride in The Stone Angel

Stubborn Pride in The Stone Angel

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In the novel there is mention of the war cry of the Curries, “Gainsay who dare!” (15). Such a translation may be "Oppose me (us) if you dare to." There is a very predominant theme of stubborn pride in The Stone Angel, which makes the novel sententious to its readers. Pride refers to a strong sense of self-respect, a refusal to be humiliated as well as joy in the accomplishments of oneself or a person, group, or object that one identifies with. Proud comes from late Old English prud, probably from Old French prude "brave, valiant". There are destructive and constructive effects of stubborn pride in that pride is a double-edged sword and separates inclination and response.
There is a certain amount of pride that goes along with social status. Jason Currie was a "self-made man" who "had pulled himself up by his bootstraps" (7). Hagar was very proud of her father's success, on account of "he had begun without money" (14). Hagar stated, "Father took such pride in the store - you'd have thought it was the only one on earth. It was the first in Manawaka, so I guess he had due cause” (9). Hagar recounts the Stone Angel as being "my mother's angel that my father bought in pride to mark her bones and proclaim his dynasty…" (3). Hagar's father was an extremely proud man, a trait that was inevitably passed on to his daughter, and he took great pride in this "terribly expensive" statue, which "had been brought from Italy" … "and was pure white marble" (3). Hagar calls to mind displaying her pride as young as age 6 when she says, "There was I, strutting the board sidewalk like a pint-sized peacock, resplendent, haughty, hoity-toity, Jason Currie's black-haired daughter" (6). The Currie's thought very much of themselves, this is shown when Hagar speaks of her father, saying, "Matt and Dan and I always knew he could never have brought himself to marry his housekeeper" (17). All too often though, pride can be the defining trait that leads to the tragic hero's tragic downfall.

Excessive pride also materializes itself as arrogance. It interferes with the individual's acceptance of the grace of God, or the worth which God sees in others. As Mr. Troy asks Hagar, “Don’t you believe, in God’s infinite Mercy?” (120), she replys “What’s so merciful about Him, I’d like to know?” (120). Hagar had developed such pride in herself that she had even let go of God, or the fact that she needed God.

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Throughout Hagar’s entire life she is too proud to ask for God's help. She begins to pray, thinking "Our Father - no. I want no part of that. All I can think is - Bless me or not, Lord, just as You please, for I'll not beg" (307). Because Hagar has fostored such a strong characteristic of pride, she has not only protected her self from many of the adverse circumstances that have arose in her life, but has sheilded many of the wonderful experiences she could have had.

Recurrently Hagar’s pride would get the best of herself and when a situation would arrise that required a certain amount of dignity and commiseration, Hagars intuition and tendencies would be cast aside for the simple fact that she must keep her "pride intact, like some maidenhead" (81). The first occurance was before Hagar left for college: she wanted to tell her father that Matt "should have been the one to go" to college, but she is unable to bring herself to do so and "Later, in the train," she cried (42). Upon returning from college, she is unable to attempt to reestablish the relationship that she had with her father after she mentioned whether or not she would be able to pursue a career as a teacher. This is how she recalls the occurance: "I jerked my hand away as though I had accidentally set it on a hot stove. He didn't say a word. He turned and went outside… I felt I must pursue him, say it was a passing thing and not meant. But I didn't" (44, 45). After John died, Hagar did not cry. She felt she must not only bear the pain alone, but that she could not allow herself to be comforted by others. A matron had put her arm around her and said, "Cry. Let yourself. It's the best thing." In return, Hagar recalls, "I shoved her arm away. I straightened my spine and that was the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my entire life, to stand straight then. I wouldn't cry in front of strangers, whatever it might cost me" (242). When Hagar got home, she found that she was unable to cry. "The night my son died I was transformed to stone and never wept at all" (243).

Hagar, frittering most of her time ruminating about her life, totals up how her pride has impacted her life by saying "Pride was my wilderness, and the demon that led me there was fear. I was alone, never anything else, and never free, for I carried my chains within me, and they spread out from me and shackled all I touched” (292). So you can see, there are constructive and deconstructive effects of stubborn pride for two main reasons. First, pride is a double-edged sword. But most importantly, it separates inclination and response.
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