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The Stone Angel

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As Hagar faces implications of growing old, she starts on a tumultuous journey, not one of her own choice, but one of destiny. She goes through different stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance of the fact that death will come, invited or not.

At one time every individual is faced with death, horrific to the young, or inviting to the sick and the old. Death is interpreted as the end of existence, but to those who believe in the afterlife, as a whole new chapter of the unknown. When Hagar realizes the proximity of death, she is in denial. She comes to live in a world of memories in the past. She created her own illusion because she cannot understand the weakness coming forth in her, like her tears "the incontinent wetness of the infirm" (pg. 31). All her life, she was hard, never showing emotion, even through the death of John. You can see her softening near the end, although she would not admit it.

In addition to denial, she reaches a stage of anger and indignance with herself and others in the small world that is her life. She can no longer perform the simplest tasks such as dressing herself or walking down the stairs. It irks her to need help, which is one of the reasons she can't stand Doris. She is also angry at the lack of emotional control as she perceives how "laden with self-pity" (pg. 31) her voice sounds when arguing with Marvin in one instance. She cannot control how her "mouth speaks by itself, the words flowing from somewhere, some half-hidden hurt" (pg. 68).

After the denial and anger begin to fade, she attempts a short bargaining period where she wonders what if. She even tells God to bless her or not "just as You please" (pg. 307), but she would not beg. But even though she attempts to wrestle against the inevitable, there is always a constant reminder. She places her belief in herself only and faults other's credibility, such as Doctor Tappen's, to maintain the illusion now hanging by a flimsy thread.

When Hagar realizes she cannot control or stop the process of old age, she becomes depressed and distant. When she hears about Silverthreads, she is "overcome with fear, the feelings one has when the ether mask goes on, when the mind cries out to the limbs, 'flail against the thing', but the limbs are already touched with lethargy, bound and lost" (pg. 95). Hagar also realizes she cannot control her future because Marvin has taken control of all her money, which leaves her helpless. She is depressed, with no control over self, body, destiny or future. Her fate is already pre-determined for her and she cannot do a thing about it. She is depressed about going to a nursing home so she runs away but she soon learns that she cannot escape her problems by running because they will always by waiting for her upon return. When she thinks of her predicaments, she begins to think of all the mistakes she's made in the past and will forever be reaping the benefits of. Most of all, she regrets the way she treated her family, especially her father, whom she never reconciled with. Towards the end she begins to give of herself as a way of apologizing and leaving some kind of legacy with her family, such as giving Tina her mother's sapphire ring.



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