the stone angel
Why did Hagar become such a bitter old lady? In the novel, The Stone Angel, by Margaret Laurence, the main character, Hagar, becomes a very bitter person due to the circumstances that she encounters. In the following paragraphs it will be proven that Hagar the hag became such a bitter old lady because of her family, the death that plagued her life and her economic stature. Through her relationships and hardships, Hagar’s life is changed forever.
Hagar had a tough time with her family when she was growing up, from her father that wouldn’t let her run her own life to her drunk of a husband. First off, Hagar’s father Jason Curie treated her like a possession and a little kid at the same time: “Anyways, no daughter of mine is going out there alone. You’ll not teach, miss.”(44) In a way you can see that he loves her in his own manner, but his way of showing it is very old fashioned; he treats like a possession and not a person. There were times when he showed that he loves her: Hagar “I was clever in school and father was pleased. Sometimes when I got a star for my work, he’d give me a paper of button candies or a handful of those lozenges that bore sugary messages – Be mine, you beauty ” (13). Overall, Hagar’s father help’s her to become a bitter old hag. Hagar’s Husband Bram Shipley was the first thing that Hagar ever stood up to her father for. Hagar’s father disapproved of Hagar and Bram’s plan to get married but Hagar was in love and didn’t care. Jason Cure “‘has he touched you?’ I was to startled to reply. ‘Has he?’ Father demanded ‘has he?’ ‘You will marry no one.’” (48). Hagar went against her father wishes, which made him angry, and at the wedding Hagar’s father and brother didn’t show up to the wedding. Auntie Doll came alone.
In The Stone Angel Hagar’s life was filled with death. Death played a key roll in the novel, from the very first page, to the end of the book people are always dying. In the very beginning of the book, in the first paragraph it is stated that Hagar’s mother is dead. Hagar narrating “Above the town, on the hill brow, the stone angel used to stand. I wonder if she stands there yet, in memory of her who relinquished her feeble ghost as I gained my stubborn one, my mother’s angel that my father bought in pride to mark her bones and proclaim his dynasty, as he fancied, forever and a day.” (1) Hagar’s mom died giving birth to her, which was the beginning of a theme of premature death’s that continued throughout Hagar’s life. Hagar’s bother Dan fell threw the ice when they were ice-skating, ‘got the consumption’ (pneumonia) and died. Then Hagar’s other brother Matt died. Soon after in the winter, Bram’s horse Soldier got out of the barn and became trapped in the barbed wire fence and perished.
It is apparent that everything around Hagar was dead or dying. By the time Hagar’s husband died Hagar had already left him. Although she didn’t care much when he died, she was there for her son John to support him in his time of anguish. Later in the novel Hagar’s son John dies with his girlfriend Arlene when the truck they are driving is hit by a train. This was the final straw. Hagar hit a new level of bitterness that transformed her into the bitter old lady that she became: “The night my son died I was transformed to stone and never wept at all.” (243) Hagar has experienced many deaths in this novel that transformed her into stone.
Hagar’s biggest influence was the economic stature that she had. As a child her father owned a general store that he had built from the ground up. The family had money but they weren’t wealthy. Even though they weren’t wealthy Hagar’s father was still a snob and looked down on certain people in the town like Hagar’s husband Bram, his grandson’s future fianc s mother, Lottie, as well as other townsfolk. Hagar says: “The Simmonses were nothing to write home about.” (204) Actually Hagar was the one that hated Lottie with a passion, when John said that he wanted to marry Arlene (Lottie’s daughter), Hagar was upset and mortified that John was going to marry trash like Arlene.
Throughout the book, Hagar experiences several economic classes; from the middle class living with her father to poor with her husband, back too middle class with Mr.Oatley and eventually to upper-middle class living with her son Marvin and his wife Doris. Hagar’s father discriminated against the people in the town that were ‘no goods’, the ones with not a lot of money. Because of this Hagar developed a snobby attitude towards people without money. Hagar didn’t have this attitude towards her husband Bram who had very little money. However she later found out the reason for this was because he made stupid business decisions and was a drunk. When Hagar was living with Mr. Oatley she was the maid but she was making good money and had free room and board. Later when Hagar was living with her son and daughter-in-law they lived in a big house and once again had money. One night Hagar knocked over a lamp and Doris freaked out. Hagar remarked: ‘then we’ll buy another lamp, buy ten I’ll pay.’ (78). There had been times when she couldn’t afford a lamp not to mention electricity. Throughout Hagar’s life there were many times when she was rich or poor and it altered her way of thinking. Hagar’s constant comparison of her social status helped create her unhappiness and contributed to her developing into a bitter old hag.
In conclusion, in the novel The Stone Angel, by Margaret Laurence, Hagar becomes a very bitter person due to the troubles that she endures. Hagar became a bitter old lady because of her family, the death’s that plagued her life and her economic status. Through relationships and hardships Hagar’s life has been changed forever.