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The Stone Angel

Essay by review  •  March 10, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,381 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,158 Views

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At the end of her life Hagar Shipley makes important discoveries about herself and her life. She is finally able to see that all her life she was imprisoned by her pride and felt lonely, unhappy, and unsatisfied. She realizes that such flows of her character as excessive pride and inability to express love or feel joy caused not only her own misery but also the suffering of all those close to her. Even thought it is now too late for her to change herself or the events that happened, Hagar truly wishes to be forgiven and to finally free herself from the agony that she is feeling.

First of all, Hagar comes to see how badly she was treating her husband, Brampton. She realizes that she always cared for him but could never show him her feelings. Her pride would not let her openly love or care about a simple farmer with no manners. She detested Bram and disapproved of his every action and idea. She was mortified by his bad language and by how he was never ashamed of speaking his mind to others. Hagar desperately tried to change him so that the townspeople could come to respect him and she never saw how hurt Bram was by her constant reproachful attitude until it was too late. When later she returned to Manawaka and saw in what pitiful condition he was Hagar realized that for all this years Bram cared for her and longed for some gentleness and affection. Hagar is hurt by her blindness and she wonders why is it that "God gives us eyes but almost never sight". Much later, when she is visiting the Silverheads nursing home and sees an old man sitting in a summer-house, Hagar becomes so overwhelmed because she recognizes Bram in that old man and she wants to speak to him, to be recognized by him. She is filled with such hope that in some mysterious way she might be able to see her mistreated husband again, to tell him that she is sorry and full of regret for their unhappy marriage. From this accident it is seen that Hagar's attitude towards Bram has changed and that she feels hurt and even in some way responsible for his lonely and miserable death as a drunkard.

Also, Hagar realizes that she has never been a good mother to either of her two sons. She was never able to love her older son Marvin because for her he was a Shipley child and therefore not hers. She resented his slowness and luck of charm, found him annoying and denied him any love or appreciation that he desperately tried to get from her. Instead she directed all her time and energy to make sure that her second son John would grow up to be different. She wanted him to be educated, cultured, well-mannered as well as hard working man who would make her a proud mother. While Marvin was "a Shipley through and through" for Hagar, John was "the sort of boy Jason Currie would wanted" and even though he would never actually see John, it was Hagar's dearest wish to raise a son who could be appreciated and respected by her father. She was "planning for John", imagining the future she would want him to have, but never saw the reality of the situation. She never saw the pain that John felt for his father, for the broken relationship between his parents. She never realized how John must have felt going away from home and leaving his father alone on the farm. Later, after John's death, Hagar realized that by denying Marvin love and affection and by trying to change John according to her own desires she failed to be a good parent to either one of them and in fact is responsible for the death of her favorite son.

After discovering the truth about her relationship with her sons, Hagar is filled with regret and wants to be forgiven. That's why during her short stay at the old cannery factory she tells the story of John's death to a stranger, Mr. Lees. Later, in half sleep she mistakes her new friend for John and explains to him how sorry she is for disapproving of John's way of life and of his girlfriend. She says to him that she "didn't really mean it" and that she "always had a temper". Mr. Lees understands and pretending to be John tells Hagar that he is not mad at her. This lie provides Hagar with something that she needed to hear for a long time - with a pardon for her mistake. She is now forgiven and feels so content and happy that she "could even beg God's pardon for thinking ill of him..." Later, Hagar in turn lies to Marvin in order to somehow compensate for the lack of attention that she has given him during his childhood. She now feels free enough to tell him a lie and she does so because

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