The Importance of the Title of Stone Angel

The Importance of the Title of Stone Angel

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The Importance of the Title of Stone Angel

 

Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel is the story of Hagar

Shipley's life, told entirely by Hagar through her memories and

thoughts. Though she remembers her past with vivid detail, she

has trouble with the happenings of the present. Hagar at ninety

is a proud and strong woman suffering from the unjustness of old

age. Once proud and independent, she now needs to be taken

care of by her son Marvin, who she never loved.

 

As the book begins, the readerÕs first glimpse is of that

of the stone angel.  "She was not the only angel in the

Manawaka cemetery, but she was the first, the largest, and

certainly the costliest." A unsuitable memorial of her mother for

she was thought of as a "feeble ghost." It seems rather to

represent Mr. Currie and Hager, both strong and full of pride. It

was there for his needs, to "proclaim his dynasty." As the story

progresses, the reader becomes more aware as why the book is

titled The Stone Angel.  Through important events in her life: the

death of Dan, her marriage, her two sons, and Mr. TroyÕs

singing; Hagar shows her inability to show tenderness and love

and how her stone heart melts always and she is finally able to

speak the words which both she and Marvin need to hear.

 

The Stone Angel serves as a double meaning: The large marble

stone angel in the cemetery and Hagar. Like the stone angel,

Hagar displays no emotion. Even when her brother Dan is dying,

her proud strengths leads her to be unable to comfort Dan. "But

all I could think of was the meek woman IÕd never seen, the

woman Dan was said to resemble so much and from whom he

inherited a frailty I could not help but detest, however part of me

wanted to sympathize. To play at being her Ð it was beyond me."

 

When her favorite son John dies, she sheds not one tear;

although she loves him very much. Her inability to communicate

her emotions to others leads her to appear as a cold and grumpy

woman. Her pride and strength causes her to do what she

needs to do, but also she is blinded like the stone angel

because she is unable to do what others need from her.

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It

causes Marvin to decide to put Hagar in Silverthreads because

she makes life hard for both him and his wife Doris. It is not until

Mr. TroyÕs singing was she able to finally comfort Marvin and Ð in

a way Ð herself by telling him how good a son he was. It was

then, when she finally was able to see what others needed; not

only what she needed.

 

In the end, she finally regains her sight and understands not only

her needs but the needs of others. Running away to avoid going

to Silverthreads leads her to realize that she is no longer

independent and depends on others. Although she realizes that

she needs other, she remains proud and strong towards the end.

"I only defeat myself by not accepting her. I know this ÐI know it

very well. But I canÕt help it ÐitÕs my very nature."

 
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