The Stone Angel

This page is an Independent Study Project done by the students of my Grade 12 English class. As our class searched the Web for information on Margaret Laurence we were somewhat surprised to find that there was very little to help students with their research. We hope that this page will help students with their appreciation and study of Margaret Laurence and her works. There is a considerable amount of information on this page, so please be patient while it loads. The material on this page is not meant to be original and is presented "as is". (The marks for the various sections ranged from the low 60's to the 90's)


Chapter Summaries


Character Analysis


Biblical Archetypes

Setting and Imagery

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© 1998 The English

Pride and Journey: Michelle Douma and Stephen Weiler

Definition of Pride:

Pride n. 1. Inordinate self-esteem; high opinion of one's own importance or worth; conceit. 2. arrogance; haughtiness. 3. honorable self-respect; personal dignity.

4. smug pleasure taken in the success of oneself or another. 5. a person or thing in which one takes such pleasure.


Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel is one of the most acclaimed Canadian novels of all time. In this novel, the most prevailing theme is that of pride; this is seen predominantly through the protagonist, Hagar, but also through other characters, such as Jason Currie. As John Moss states, "What gives Margaret Laurence's vision the resonant dimensions of universal truth is the…interlacing of the destructive and constructive effects of (Hagar's) recalcitrant pride…Pride is a double-edged sword." Indeed, her great pride helps her to cope with the many difficulties she faces throughout her life. This pride, however, also "separates inclination and response" (J. Moss), resulting in several strained relationships which Hagar was unable to mend. John Moss believes that "Hagar's pride repeatedly imprisoned her within the confines of thwarted affections and misdirected emotion." More specifically, her pride caused such things as an unhappy marriage with Brampton Shipley and a severance of all ties with her father, Jason, and her brother, Matt. Her pride serves her best in her dying days, when "she will not submit to frailty and deferential concern. She rages 'against the dying of the light' with the same wrong-headed spleen that she had always displayed…in the counterpoint present her…pride is heroic" (J. Moss).

Analysis of the Theme of Pride via a Short Summation of Pride-Related Occurrences:

Theme of the Journey Towards Death

At one time in life, every individual is faced with the horrible fact of death. Death is a subject that everyone fears because they associate death with their end and not a new beginning. In The Stone Angel, by Margaret Laurence, Hagar is no different. When she faces the reality of the implications of growing old she is faced with a journey, not one of her choice but one of destiny. Through her journey Hagar goes through the five different stages leading up towards death: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. The novel demonstrates each of Hagar's steps along the difficult journey of death which is frightening and intimidating but also inevitable.

When Hagar is first faced with the truth that she is getting old and not going to be around much longer, her first reaction is one of denial. Hagar cannot believe that this is happening to her. In her mind she more or less associates death as a horrible nightmare of which she will eventually wake up and everything will be a dream and life will return back to normal. Hagar's denial can be seen when she describes herself: "Because I cannot remember doing it nor yet recall definitely not doing it...I become flustered" (Laurence, 30). Hagar's greatest difficulty is that her memory is failing her and this infuriates her more than anything else but it also allows her to create an illusion that everything will be fine. Hagar makes herself believe that this cannot be happening:

"Then, terribly, I perceive the tears, my own they must be although they have sprung so unbidden I feel they are like the incontinent wetness of the infirm. Trickling, they taunt down my face. I dismiss them, blaspheme against them - let them be gone. But I have spoken and they are still there" (Laurence, 31).

Hagar rejects everything that would shatter her illusion that she has created:

"Doris believes that age increases natural piety, like a kind of insurance policy falling due. I couldn't explain. Who would understand, even if I strained to speak? I am past ninety and this figure seems somehow arbitrary and impossible,..." (Laurence, 38).

When Hagar finally gets through her stage of denial that she has live in she becomes angry with herself and the world around her. It frustrates Hagar that she can no longer do what she is accustomed to doing rather she often has to seek the aid of others: "How it irks me to have to take her hand, allow her to pull my dress over my head, undo my corsets and strip them off me, and have her see my blue-veined swollen flesh..." (Laurence, 77). Hagar gets angry also when she cannot control her emotions: "Now I perceive, too late, how laden with self-pity my voice sounds, and how filled with reproach" (Laurence, 37). Hagar cannot control her mind either and her illusion is slowly shattering: "Oh, but that was not what I meant to say at all. How is it my mouth speaks by itself, the words flowing from somewhere, some half-hidden hurt?" (Laurence, 68). Hagar is angry at her body that she can no longer do simple tasks for herself but that she is dependent on others: "I heard the footsteps on the carpeted stair. They sound muted and velvety, as though it were a smotherer...When the intruder opens the door, I won't be able to rise from my chair..." (Laurence, 72). Hagar feels incompetent and useless which infuriates and frustrates her at the same time.

Hagar goes through a short period of bargaining where she wonders what if. Even though Hagar attempts to bargain against the inevitable there is always a constant reminder:

"...I'm stuck here like an overturned ladybug...I hurt all over, but the worst is that I'm helpless.

I grow enraged...Perhaps the anger gives me strength... Proud as Napoleon or Lucifer, I stand and survey the wasteland I've conquered. My bowels knot,...That's the indignity of it" (Laurence, 191).

Since Hagar does not accept the belief in God, she bargains with destiny and places the fault on others, everybody but herself: "That Doctor Tappen - I never thought much of him" (Laurence, 263). She questions everybody's credibility to maintain her illusion that is now hanging by a flimsy thread.

When Hagar realizes she can't control or stop the process of old age and death, she becomes depressed and distant.

"Silverthreads...I am barely aware of the words that issue form my mouth. I am overcome with fear, the feeling 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" (Laurence, 95).

Hagar also realizes that she cannot even control her future because she has no money: "Marvin looks after my money. The account's in his name now. I had forgotten. I haven't a nickel" (Laurence, 139). Hagar is depressed because she has no self-control, no control over her body, destiny or her future. Her fate is already pre-determined for her and she cannot do a thing about it. Hagar is depressed about the idea about going to a nursing home so she runs away but she soon learns that she cannot escape her problems by running away because they will always be there when she returns. Hagar begins to regret what she has done in the past: "I'm sorry no that I told Father. But it made me wild-..." (Laurence, 276). Towards the end, Hagar begins to give herself to others because she cannot stand leaving them behind: "Send her this, Doris, will you? It was my mother's sapphire. I'd like Tina to have it" (Laurence, 279).

Finally, towards the end of the novel, Hagar reaches the end or her journey and accepts her fate instead of trying to change it. Hagar is still scared but she realizes that she cannot battle or change God's plan:

"The light is on beyond that open door. If I reach it, someone will speak. Will the voice be the one I have been listening for? What keeps him? He could surely say something. It wouldn't hurt, just say a word. Hagar. He was the only one who ever called me by my name" (Laurence, 284-285).

Hagar also confronts her past and accepts the fact that she cannot change what happened but only overcome it:

"I must always, always have wanted that - simply to rejoice. How is it I never could? I know, I know... Every good joy I might have held... all were forced to a standstill by some brake of proper appearances - oh, proper to whom? When did I ever speak the heart's truth?" (Laurence, 292).

I lie here and try to recall something truly free that I've done in ninety years. I can think of only two acts that might be so, both recent. One was a joke...The other was a lie" (Laurence, 307).

Even though Hagar accepts her journey towards death she is determined to do it alone. The reader never finds out if she does it for others or simply for her own satisfaction. "I've reached the bathroom and gained the shiny steel grail...And now I wonder if I've done it for her or for myself" (Laurence, 301). Hagar finally succeeds in accepting reality and leaving the world peacefully under her own terms: "I wrest from her the glass, full of water to be had for the taking. I hold it in my hands...And then -" (Laurence, 308).

The novel is an unforgettable tale about a proud and courageous woman, Hagar, who is determined to leave the world dependent on no one. Hagar does not want anyone to feel pity for her, mourn her or worry about her journey. Hagar accomplishes her goal, even though in the process she has to shatter her illusion and accept the harsh facts about life and reality. In the final scene, the reader obtains the message that Hagar has reached her independence when she holds the glass of water. As a result she can leave the world peacefully knowing that in the end she succeeded in freeing herself of any help. Hagar bravely survived her last moments with her heart and the reward of satisfaction. The reader, with the help of the author, can relate to Hagar's struggle through her journey, sympathizing with her, feeling her pain and keeping a part of her with them.

Allusion in The Stone Angel


"Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight" By Dylan Thomas

This poem is about fighting against death. Many people die everyday with a sense of defeat. They reach a point in their lives were they feel it is useless to fight against a force that is destined to claim them. The strength of their youth disappears leaving them weak. Those who accept death too early die spiritually before they die physically. They grieve a loss that is yet to come. "Rage, rage against the dying of the light" demonstrates perfectly the attitude Dylan Thomas felt his father should have had against his death. "D.J. Thomas had never recovered since having tongue cancer in 1932. Losing his eyesight Mr. Thomas' pride and fire had almost all drained out of him; he was becoming the husk of his former self. He did the crossword puzzles of which both he and Dylan were so fond of and awaited the end. The spectacle of his decline distressed Dylan greatly and inspired this poem." (FitzGibbons 295). Dylan Thomas did not wish to see his dad surrender to his death. In writing this poem, Dylan set out to encourage others to fight against death and to live their lives to the fullest.

The Stone Angel and Dylan Thomas In the novel "The Stone Angel", Hagar Shipley is a woman fighting against her own death. Her son Marvin and his wife Doris wish to put Hagar in a nursing home because they feel she is too old to take care of herself. Hagar, feeling differently, takes matters into her own hands and flees to a house in Shadow Point. Hagar is fighting against the death she feels will claim her if she is placed in a nursing home. By running away, Hagar is standing up for her right to be able to live her own life the way she feels. Marvin is a representation of the death attempting to take hold of Hagar. In fighting Marvin, Hagar is making one last effort to reclaim her life and, in doing so, is refusing to "go gentle into that good night".

Analysis: "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" By Samuel Taylor Coleridge The Ancient Mariner is at a wedding and starts to tell a story to the Wedding Guest. The Mariner was in a ship sailing towards the south pole. All of a sudden the ship was driven by a storm. It started to snow and the ship appeared to be in an ice land where no living thing was found. Out of the fog an Albatross (a sea bird) came and was received with great joy and hospitality by the ship mates. It was a sign of life. The ice split and the boat sailed off. The bird followed them day and night until the Ancient Mariner killed it. The ship mates were angry that the Mariner killed the bird because they thought it was good luck. The Mariner justified the murder by saying it was not good luck and that the bird was the one who brought the fog. The fog cleared and the men agreed with the Mariner therefore making them accomplices to the crime. The boat sailed into the Pacific Ocean and all of a sudden the breeze dropped and everything grew silent and still. The Albatross began to avenge; its spirit had followed them. The ship mates put all the blame on the Mariner and for a punishment they hung the dead bird around the Mariner's neck. The Ancient Mariner saw a sign afar. As it neared he thought it was a ship, but to his dismay he realized that it couldn't be because it was sailing in a straight line (it wasn't tacking). It approached and the image was now a skeleton of a ship with two people on it: a Specter-Woman and a Deathmate. Night time came and one ship mate after another died and their souls lifted from their bodies. The Wedding Guest thinks that the Mariner is a spirit but the old man reassures him that he is alive. He continues his story and tells the Wedding Guest that he despised the creatures of the calm because he was surrounded by death. The curse lived in the eyes of the dead men. As the ship sailed on he realized the beauty and the happiness within the creatures of the great calm and blessed them in his heart. The spell began to break. While sleeping the Mariner was awakened by the rain and the sound of the wind. An angelic saint took over the dead bodies and the ship mates began to help the Mariner pull the ropes and guide the boat towards the south. The blood rushed to his head and the Mariner fell to the floor. He then heard two voices talking about done, And penance more will do". The Mariner was now cast into a trance and the power pushed the boat to the north at a fast speed. He awoke and everything was calm again. The curse was finally done and he then saw a light house. There was his native country. The angelic spirits left the dead bodies and a boat appeared. The little boat approached the ship with wonder and all of a sudden the ship sank. The Mariner was saved by the Pilot's boat. The agony within him made him tell the story to the Wedding Guest. To teach by his own example: to love and reverence to all things that God made. The Ancient Mariner died a wiser man.

The Stone Angel and Samuel Taylor Coleridge The main theme of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem is to learn from your mistakes. After telling his tale to the Wedding Guest, the Ancient Mariner realized that the murder of the Albatross was a mistake and lived a life of penance. The act of murder was an impulsive act because the Mariner felt threatened by the Albatross their actions. The deaths of both birds brought about memories from both the Ancient Mariner and Hagar which they shared with other people, the Wedding Guest and Murray F. Lees. These memories help them to realize the mistakes they made. Through their own personal recollections, the Ancient Mariner and Hagar both achieved a better understanding of their lives and in turn were able to die with a sense of contentment and relief.

By: Melanie Gagne and Krista Burley Works Cited FitzGibbons, Constantine. The Life of Dylan Thomas. Boston: Little Brown & Co., 1965

Character Study of Hagar

Roxanne Pardiac, Sarah McClean

The main character in the novel The Stone Angel, by Margaret Laurence, is a character who possesses incredible depth. Hagar is an old women who has never lost her spirit and free will. Hagar is still being faced with obstacles which she must fight to overcome. Since Hagar is a character who is not perfect, the audience is capable of relating to her. The tragic hero through his struggle and the recognition of his own shortcomings reveal man's essential or potential nobility, and we are ennobled, uplifted by the spectacle.

Hagar Shipley can be considered a tragic hero because through her struggles she managed to retain her spirit and free will, which she exhibited throughout the novel. Even as a young child Hagar believed that showing emotion was a sign of weakness. She once said " I wouldn't let him see me cry, I was so enraged " ( p. 9 ) after her dad smacked her hand. When asked to hold her dying brother, her inability to show fear prevented her from portraying her deceased mother. Her reason was, " I can't. I'm not a bit like her" ( p. 25 ). Unable to communicate with a member of her own family shows another weakness, "Later in the train, I cried, thinking of him, but, of course, he never knew that, and I'd been the last to tell him" ( p. 42 ). Influenced by her father's lack of communication, Hagar's solution to a difficult situation is to ignore it or hide from her problems instead of dealing with them in a mature and open fashion. In an attempt to ignore her failing health, she runs away from Marvin and Doris. " So I merely sit on the bed and look out the window until the dark comes and the trees have gone and the sea itself has been swallowed by the night." ( p.160 ) She does not want to deal with her problems. She finds an escape through daydreaming. She strongly believes, " ... if a person doesn't look after herself in this world, no one else is likely to",( p. 187 ) even though she was surrounded by people who were willing to help her with her problems. One of those people, the nurse, while doing her job brings Hagar her medication, making her realize it's acceptable for her to show her gratitude, " I can't bear to feel indebted. I can be as grateful as the next person, as long as it's not forced on me" ( p. 258 ).

Never losing her spirit or freewill, Hagar finds herself faced with obstacles to conquer. Overcoming her fear of self- expression, her disappointment in Marvin, and her world of appearances, Hagar finally understands what it means to be truly human. One obstacle occurred in the hospital, when Marvin asked how she was feeling. She wanted to tell him she was fine, but she said, "I'm- frightened. Marvin, I'm so frightened- ...What possessed me? I think it's the first time in my life I've ever said such a thing. Shameful. Yet somehow it is a relief to speak it " (p. 303-304). Saying this reveals that in the last days of her life she comes to terms with her true emotions. She is finally able to depend on someone other than herself. Her disappointment in Marvin is conquered when she is lying in her deathbed, "You've not been cranky, Marvin. You've been good to me, always. A better son than John " (p. 304). She finally releases Marvin from her prejudice. Hagar never realized that her whole life had been consumed with senseless suppressions of the truth; solely to serve her world of appearances. "Every good joy I might have held, in my man or any child of mine or even the plain light of morning, of walking the earth, all were forced to a standstill by some break of proper appearances- oh, proper to whom? When did I ever did I speak the hearts truth? " (p. 292). Still, after everything she'd been through, even on her deathbed, a stubborn old woman's ways never change. "I only defeat myself by not accepting her (Doris). I know this- I know it very well. But I can't help it, it's my nature. I'll drink from this glass or spill it just as I choose " (p.308).

The audience is capable of relating to Hagar before and after she has overcome her obstacles. Through her reminiscing the reader is able to understand Hagar's mentality, "Some people will tell you that the old live in the past-that's nonsense" (p. 5). Hagar came across as a strong person who could not allow people to cross the barrier she built around herself, "Nothing is ever changed at a single stroke, I know that full well, although a person sometimes wishes it could otherwise" (p. 88). " Pry and pry-what does he want of me? I'm tired out I can't fence with him." (p. 120). These quotes reveal that Hagar fears people breaking down the walls which she built .

For Hagar Shipley, a woman with great independence and dignity, living in a world of appearances was an intrinsic routine she endured everyday. Revealing emotion to others, even to her own father, was something she sometimes wanted to do; but, she was just not capable of doing that. The values instilled upon her when she was a child were those of appearing strong and independent. "Gainsay who dare" was the family's motto, for someone like Hagar to show emotion, she would have to be dared. Throughout her life, she never realized what she had become until she was on her deathbed. Suppressing her feelings became instinctive; living in a world of appearances rather than serving her most inner desires was Hagar's way of life. Always retaining her spirit and freewill, she was not perfect- yet the audience was capable of relating to her. " I would have wished it. This knowing comes upon me so shatteringly, and with such a bitterness as I have never felt before. I must have always, always have wanted that- simply to rejoice. How is it I never could? I know, I know. How long have I known? Or have I always known, in some far crevice of my heart, some cave too deeply buried, too concealed?" ( p. 292 ). The audience is capable of relating to what Hagar has said because the feelings she has expressed in this quotation are feelings many individuals experience. Hagar's life story is proof that a life of strength and stubbornness was not a life that was fulfilling or satisfying. The tragedy being that an individual often only realizes his/ her mistakes when it is already too late.



Flower Imagery

Margaret Laurence uses flower imagery in her novel The Stone Angel to represent Hagar's way of life. There is two types of flowers, wild and civilized. These two types of flowers are associated with the educated, controlled way of life and the material way of life.

In summer the cemetery was rich and thick as syrup with the funeral-parlor perfume of the planted peonies, dark crimson and wallpaper pink, the pompous blossoms hanging leadenly, too heavy for their light stems, bowed down with the weight of themselves and the weight of the rain, infested with upstart ants that sauntered through the plush petals as though to the manner born . . . But sometimes through to hot rush of disrespectful wind that shook the scrub oak and the coarse couchgrass encroaching upon the dutifully cared for habitations of the dead, the scent of the cowslips would rise momentarily. They were though-rooted, these wild and gaudy flowers, and although they were held back at the cemetery's edge, torn out by loving relatives determined to keep the plots clear and clearly civilized, for a second or two a person walking there could catch the faint, musky, dust-tinged smell of things that grew and had grown always, before the portly peonies and the angels with rigid wings, when the prairie bluffs were walked though only by Cree with enigmatic faces and greasy hair.

(p. 4-5)

Hagar was the lucky one in her family. She was able to go to college where she learned how to be more cultivated and civilized and how to act like a lady. Nothing seems to be natural about her, she criticizes everything that seems to be wild or out of control. When Hagar marries Bram Shipley, she is content and in love.

It was spring that day, a different spring from this one. The poplar bluffs had budded with sticky leaves, and the frogs had come back to the sloughs and sang like choruses of angels with sore throats, an the mars marigolds were opening like shavings of sun on the brown river where the tadpoles danced and the bloodsuckers lay slimy and low, waiting for the boy's feet. And i rode into black-topped buggy beside the man who was no my mate.

(cp. 50)

After the wedding, Hagar becomes determined to change the way her husband behaves. His manners are rude and unexpected. This only embarrasses her. Later on in the novel, Hagar realizes that she herself is he embarrassing one, having humiliated people like her son, John or her daughter-in-law, Doris.

The references dealing with cultivated flowers are grim. They have the smell of a funeral-parlor and speak of death and emptiness, almost like Hagar's aging life.

"I would not expect her to know that the lilies of the valley, so white and almost too strongly sweet, were the flowers we used to weave into the wreaths for the dead" (p. 33).

In her old age, Hagar realizes that her life was bleak. She did not let anything about herself go free. She wanted to be well known as an educated, independent woman who needed no help from anyone, yet she fails in the end having to depend on her own son, Marivn, and his wife. Her flowers deteriorate just the same as Hagar grows old.

My marigolds were a dead loss by this time, of course. I'd planted them behind the house to use as cutting flowers and they'd kept on seeding themselves, but now only a few wizened ones remained, small unexpected dabs of orange among the choking weeds, dry sheep foot and thistle. The sunflowers had risen beside the barn as always, fed by the melting snow in the spring, but they'd had no other water this year - their tall stalks were hollow and brown, and the heavy heads hung over, the segments empty as unfilled honey-combs, for the petals had fallen and the centers had dried before the seeds could form."

(cp. 169)

At the end of the novel, before Hagar dies, she realizes that her life was empty with all the wrong decisions. She faked her whole life being strong and civilized when she should have been alive and spontaneous.

"I take off my hat - it's hardly suitable for here, anyway, a prim domestic hat sprouting cultivated flowers. Then with considerable care I arrange the jades and copper pieces in my hair. I glance into my purse mirror. The effect is pleasing. They liven up my gray, transform me."

At Shadow point where Hagar puts june bugs in her own hair is a way of escaping. It signifies living.

Biblical Imagery

In the novel The Stone Angel, Margaret Laurence introduces a character who seems to evolve her life around biblical imagery.

Hagar Shipley, a ninety year-old woman, does not accept things easily, like life. Hagar is recognized as a biblical imagery because of her name. "Hagar" is introduced and recognized in the Old Testament as the Egyptian hand-maiden of Sarah, the wife of Abraham. By reason Sarah was unable to provide offspring for Abraham. Since Sarah could not conceive, she gave her servant, Hagar, to her husband, so she can produce heir under Abraham's name.

And Sarah said unto Abraham, Behold now, the Lord that restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that i may obtain children by her. And Abraham hearkened unto the voice of Sarah...

And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes".

(Genesis 16, 2-4)

Symbolically, Hagar Shirley became a house keeper in her younger years. Hagar has always felt that she was to take care, nurture, serve others, it became her natural positron. Hagar saw herself as the "chatelaine," or possibly an outcast when she was married to Br am.

The Shirley house was square and frame, two-storied, the furniture shoddy and second-hand, the kitchen reeking and stale, for no one had scoured properly there since Clara died. Yet seeing it, I wasn't troubled in the slightest, still thinking of myself as a chatelaine. I wonder who I imagined would do the work? I thought of Po lacks and Galician's from the mountains, half-breeds from the river valley of the Achaean, or the daughters and spinster aunts of the poor, forgetting that Abram's own daughters had hired out whenever they could be spared, until they married very young and gained a permanent employment."

(cp. 50-51)

Hagar is feeling like a prisoner in her own habitat, that she is not "free" in spirit; "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" (pp. 292). The imagery that Hagar is enslaved like the prisoners in the early era's, B.C.-A. C., she became a slave of her own emotions which is struggling within her.

Also noted, Hagar also was seen and explained as "a creature of wilderness". Like the pharaoh's daughter, she left the security of her father and went to explore the wilderness. Hagar Shirley shows the same imagery. She leaves from her father's wings so she can pursue a better lifestyle for herself.

As another character, John, one of Hagar's sons. John was Hagar's favorite son. John had a character of lying and deceiving himself. Hagar had hoped that John might be a faithful son as the example given, like Jacob from the Old Testament.

I wish he would have looked like Jacob then, wrestling with the angel and besting it, wringing a blessing from it with his might. But no. He sweated and grunted angrily. His feet slipped and he hit his forehead on a marble, ear and swore.

(cp. 179)

Also Hagar had a son, Marvin, she never adored him, but finally realizes on how honorable Marvin was to her. This opens the doors of acceptance from Hagar to Marvin.

Now it seems to me he is truly Jacob, gripping with all his strength, and bargaining."I will not let thee go, except thou bless me". And I see I am thus strangely cast and perhaps have been so from the beginning, and can only release myself by releasing him.

(p 304)

There are similarities between Hagar of the Old Testament and Margaret Laurence's. The name Hagar is explained to mean "to flee". For example, the Old Testament Hagar fled from Abraham and Isaac. Magaret Laurence's Hagar's flights where when she fled from the Shipley place, from her husband Bram, taking her two sons, and secondly, she fled home to seek revenge on Marvin and Doris, her son and daughter-in-law, being childlike and ran away to create a scare.

Later on, as the novel progresses, Hagar experiences an epiphany, celebrating the manifesting of Christ's divinity, as Mr. Troy sang hymns when he visited Hagar in the hospital. Hagar realized on what she was missing in her life. "I'll drink from this glass, or spill it, just as i choose" (p. 308). This indicates that Hagar has thirst and smallest imagery of some kind of spiritual thirst, that she understood some kind of peace between herself. This stubborn woman learned to accept things as they are and cannot change. Hagar had a chance to repent before passing away which lets her rest in peace.

Stone Angel Imagery

The statue of the stone angel is symbolic of the Curie family pride, Hagar's inability to relate and share her emotions, and the blindness and ignorance that comes from constantly refusing to see things from another point of view other than your own.

The Stone angel is symbolic of the Curie family pride because it does not seem to serve it's purpose, which is to hon our Hagar's mother who had died giving birth to her. Hagar describes Mrs. Curie to be a "meek woman" and a "feeble ghost", whereas she describes herself to be "stubborn" and "practical". The statue was bought in Italy and brought to the Manawaka cemetery "at a terrible expense . . . in pride to mark her bones and proclaim his [Mr. Currie's] dynasty, as he fancied, forever and a day" (p. 3). Mr. Currie bought the angel "in pride" rather than in grief for someone he considered his possession, his "dynasty". The stone angel is also a symbol of Hagar's pride as she inherited it from her father. It was this pride that kept her from speaking up and fighting for her brother when Mr. Currie sent her away to college to become "more civilized". She knew Matt deserved to go more than her, but she never stuck up for either him or herself. In an attempt at freedom, or maybe just to spite her father, Hagar married Bram Shipley soon after she came back from school. From day one, Hagar's marriage to Bram was a complete embarrassment to her and her family: "When i'd listen to Bram spinning his cobwebs, then it would turn my stomach most of all, not what he said but that he made himself a laughingstock" (p. 114). Upon hearing about their plans to wed, Hagar's father disowns her. Bram was not a rich man by any means, he drank heavily, always spoke in slang, and caused a scene on a regular basis. Hagar thought she'd be able to change him and coax him out of his wild ways, but when he proved her wrong, she just accepted the fact that she'd have to live with it or lie about it to save face. When applies for a job to get away from Mananawka and her husband, she lies to her boss as to her real relationship with Bram.

Hagar's pride prevents her from expressing her emotions or relating to other people, and as a result she turns out to be just as hard and unyielding as the stone angel itself. She never reveals her real feelings at the risk of being thought of as "soft" and as a result she misses out on a lot of potentially great relationships. At a very young age, her pride prevents her from comforting her dying brother:

But all i could think of was that meek woman I'd never seen, the woman Dan was said to resemble so much and when from whom he'd inherited a frailly I could not help but detest, however mush a part of me wanted to sympathize. To play at being her - it was beyond me.

(cp. 25)

When Abram's horse died, she had a hard time trying to find something soothing to say or do because she always had a stone wall built up between them.

Seeing Abram's hunched shoulders, and the look on his face, all at once I walked over to him without pausing to ponder whether I should or not, or what to say. . . Then, awkwardly, "I'm sorry about it Bram. I know you were fond of him

(p. 87).

Hagar comes to pride herself on her self-restraint and aloofness. Margaret Laurence establishes this though Hagar's refusal to admit to her husband that she enjoys making love with him:

It was not so very long after we wed, when first i felt my blood and vitals rise to meet his. he never knew. I never let him know. I never spoke aloud, and i made certain the trembling was all inner . . . i prided myself on keeping my pride intact, like some maidenhood.

(p. 81)

The stone angel, in addition to being made of hard marble, is "doubly blind". Not only because it is made of stone, but because the artist neglected to add the eyeballs to his masterpiece. This is also symbolic of Hagar because she is blind when it comes to the feelings of others. It prevents her from having a friendship with Lottie. It isn't until it's too late that she realizes she has more in common with Lottie than either of them had ever imagined. It also prevents her from seeing that Marvin was the son she'd been looking for, that her pride had been holding her back, and that sometimes the problems of others were of more importance than her own.



By: Cecilia, Ben and Anita

The Early Years: The Beginnings of a Writer

Sunday, July 18th 1926, at 7:30pm at the Neepawa General Hospital, one of Canada's greatest authors, Margaret Laurence, was born to proud parents Robert and Verna Wemyss. Verna's father, John Simpson, was a self-made man. Born in 1853 in Middletown Ontario, John attended school, training to be a cabinetmaker. In the 1870's John, with only his change in his pocket, made his way towards Portage la Prairie Manitoba, in an attempt to unite with a cousin who sold clothing there. While working in the clothing store, John met his future wife, Jane Bailey. Four years after marrying Jane the Simpson family decided to move north, towards to the newly founded town of Neepawa.

Margaret's Laurence's grandmother, Margaret Weymss, whom she was named after, came from a proud family. Margaret Weymss' great-grandfather was the Minister of Agriculture, and at one point the Premier of Manitoba. Margaret Laurence's grandfather, John Weymss, came from England to Neepawa in 1883. John Weymss, Neepawa's first lawyer, was a bright aristocratic man dying tragically, two weeks after the birth of his granddaughter Margaret.

This was only the beginning of the many tragic deaths that Margaret's family endured in her first twenty years of life. At the young age of four, Margaret's mother Verna Simpson died. The death of Margaret's mother had a profound effect on the once bright and bubbly girl. It was Verna who first nicknamed her daughter Margaret, "Peggy", a name by which Margaret was addressed as for almost 40 years. After Verna's death, her older sister, Margaret Simpson, quickly moved in with Peggy and her father. A year after moving in, Margaret Simpson married Robert Weymss, becoming "mother" to Peggy. In 1935, another tragedy shook the Weymss household. Peggy's father Robert died after catching pneumonia. Margaret's last family death in her early years was in 1936 when Peggy's grandmother Jane, contracted Polio. It was around this time that Peggy began to write, in an attempt to escape the horrible nightmare she was living, by creating imaginary worlds. Margaret found that writing was the only way she could control external events, such as life and death.

At the age of thirteen Margaret Laurence's first story "Pillars of a Nation" was published in the newspaper TheWinnipeg Free Press. The fictional town name Manawaka first appeared in this story. Her second work published in the Winnipeg Free Press was "The Case of the Blond Butcher" only a few months after the first. In high school, Margaret was always competing for top marks in her class. While she got perfect marks in English and Arts, her high school rival Mildred Musgrove got honors in Math and Science. Teaming together Mildred and Margaret joined the school newspaper, where Margaret eventually became editor. Due to her good grades and extra curricular activities, Margaret won the Governor-Generals award in 1944 and got a scholarship to the United College in Winnipeg.

It was at United College that Margaret really became involved in writing. While there, she published poetry and many stories in the school newspaper, Vox. Often times when submitting a piece to be published she would use the name Steve Lancaster because of the sexism that existed in that time. The pinnacle of Margaret's college life came in her second year, when she was accepted to the exclusive "English Club". Back then English professors obviously recognized Margaret as a student with much potential. To be offered membership to the English Club was an incredible feat for Margaret because second-year students rarely were asked to join. Away from her home, Margaret grew increasingly fond of her upbringing in the Prairies, especially her town Neepawa. "Neepawa is somewhat sleepy, somewhat seedy town 'on the road to Winnipeg'… A strange place it was, that place where the world began. A place of incredible happenings, splendors and revelations, despairs like multitudinous pits of isolated hells. A place of shadow-spookiness, inhabited by the unknown dead. A place of jubilation and of mourning, horrible and beautiful.

In was, in fact, a small prairie town. The town of my childhood could be called bizarre, agonizingly repressive or cruel at times, and the land in which it grew could be called harsh in violence of its seasonal changes. But never merely flat or uninteresting. Never dull" - M. Laurence.


The writing of Margaret Laurence has inspired all Canadian readers. She was one of Canada's best writers and all around the world people applauded her work. Her writing is outstanding work and has attracted many young readers in this modern society. Also, by her writing, Laurence has turned a town in Manitoba into a new human experience. She has even helped us to learn about the life she has lived by writing fictional novels. The best fictional character that brought the reader closer to Margaret Laurence was the character, Hagar Shipley, in the novel The Stone Angel. Hagar is the most unforgettable female character in all Canadian fiction.

Travel played a major role in Laurence's life. It helped Margaret Laurence by giving her vision in her writing. These journeys helped her to find meaning in human experience. Indeed, much of the third decade of her life was in Africa where her husband worked as an engineer from 1950 to 1957.

Additionally, all her important accomplishments started almost at the beginning of 1947. From 1947 to 1949, she worked as a reporter for The Winnipeg Citizen and she married Jack Laurence (September 1947), returned veteran and civil engineering student. Later Jack graduated from the University of Manitoba, 1949, and the Laurence's went to England.

The work of Jack Laurence took the couple to the British Protectorate of Somaliland, from 1950 to 1952. In 1952, their gorgeous daughter was Jocelyn born. Then, from 1952 to 1957, they lived in Ghana. Their son, David, was born there in 1955. While Margaret Laurence lived in Africa she started to write A Tree For Poverty, Somali Poetry and Prose which was published in Nairobi, in 1954. Then she began her first novel, This Side Jordan and her first African story, "The Drummer of All the World," published in Queen's Quarterly (Winter, 1956). Later, in 1957, when Ghana achieved its independence, the Laurence's returned to Canada. After Margaret's arrival her stepmother, Margaret Simpson Wemyss, died.

Margaret Laurence lived in Vancouver and wrote more African stories. Later This Side Jordan was published in 1960. Then, she and her husband separated and she moved to England with her children, to a flat in Hempstead. In 1963, she moved to Elm Cottage, Buckinghamshire. Then McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, published The Tomorrow-Tamer and The Prophet's Camel Bell. The latter was published in England under the same title, but in New York as New Wind in a Dry Land (Knopf, 1964).

Later, in 1964, the simultaneous publication in New York of three books by Knopf ( The Tomorrow-Tamer, New Wind in a Dry Land, and The Stone Angel) brought wide international recognition. In 1966, A Jest of God was published in Toronto, London, and New York.

By the 1970's, Margaret Laurence had become not just an established and accomplished writer, yet one to whom younger Canadian writers were turning with admiration and respect. All of her dedication made her one of the best novelists and her work has been outstanding. She spent most of her life time traveling which gave her literary vision to write these unforgettable novels. Perhaps more than any other writer of her time, she seemed to enjoy her life by writing these remarkable novels.


Throughout the writing career of Margaret Laurence, she brought her readers to Manawaka, recreating the world in which her heroines Hagar (The Stone Angel), Stacey (The Fire-Dwellers) and Rachel (A Jest of God), grew up in. Through these novels, Margaret showed how the apparition of power by women could be conducted according to principles of self-interest.

Even though Margaret Laurence was a celebrity in Canada, she had a chronic shyness at public events. "She was not merely nervous. Her hands would shake badly; later, she would find it difficult to control the quaver in her voice."(King,350). Her warmth and kindness were obvious with her public, and she was much beloved because she reflected and expressed the hopes and fears of Canadians for all of society.

As for her accomplishments, in 1967, Margaret Laurence became the first woman and youngest person to be Honorary Fellow of United College, University of Winnipeg. In 1969,despite her success, her seven year separation came to an end. At the same time she served an academic year at University of Toronto as Writer-in-Residence, Massey College.

Furthermore, in 1971 she was made a companion of the order of Canada and many other honors were bestowed upon her. Then Margaret Laurence received the Governor General's Award for "A Jest of God" (1967) and for "The Diviners" (1975). "Margaret Laurence-first lady of Manawaka"; an hour long documentary Film Board of Canada, and premiered in Winnipeg on May 7, 1979. Even though she was recognized as a novelist, she also wrote several children's books: Jason Quest (1970); Six Darn Cows (1979), The Olden days Coat (1979, revised in 1982); and A Christmas Birthday Story (1980).

Margaret Laurence supported novice artists and writers by aiding them financially through the Three Guineas Foundation and spiritually through encouraging words. Through lectures, letters, essay and fund raising campaigns; peace, social justice, the equality of women, environment protection have been main focus of the last years of her life.

Few who attended Lakefield or Toronto, knew that Margaret Laurence had chosen to her own life in the face of terminal cancer on January 5, !987. Her kindness, generosity and good heart are legendary.


"One of the most Convincing and the most touching portraits of an unregenerate sinner"(Time).

"She was one of the Canada's best loved writers, the sometimes reclusive, sometimes gregarious woman..."(King)

" Margaret Laurence has become, through her own efforts and the commentary of critics, one of the most important and most Canadian of novelists"(J.M. Kertzer).

"Her African work is much less known than her Canadian fiction, which is generally read and studied in isolation from earlier writing"(Morley).

"Laurence has turned the Manitoba town of her youth into a metaphor of universal human experience"(Morley).


Kertzer,J.M. Margaret Laurence and Her Works. ECW Press, Toronto, Ontario

King, James. The Life of Margaret Laurence. Alfred A. Knopf Publishing, UDA 1997

Morley Patricia. Margaret Laurence.the Long Journey Home Canadian Cataloguing in Publication Data, 1991.

Perigoe, L. and Copping, B. The World of The Novel: The Stone Angel. Prentice-Hall Canada Inc., Ont. 1983.

Biography-Margaret Laurence. is Margaret.Laurence? (Last updated 98/01/09


Chapter Summaries by Adrian, Ben, and Adam

Chapter One Summary and Questions

The novel starts by describing "The Stone Angel". The angel is Hagar's mother's tombstone, and it is the largest and the first of its kind. It stands tall in the cemetery overlooking the entire town. Hagar's father had the large marble statue imported and it cost him a great deal of money. The tombstone reads "Rest in peace. From toil, surcease. Regina Weese. 1886." She died from some obscure maidenly disease while giving birth to Hagar.

All the old Hagar can do is sit and relive her memories. Some say the old live in the past, but she doesn't believe so. She just thinks that they live each worthless day. The only enjoyment that she has is complaining and smoking her cigarettes. Her son Marvin seems to think it disgusting that a woman of ninety smokes. The whole idea of a ninety year old clutching a cigarette between arthritic fingers is absurd. She must also be careful not to speak aloud to herself in fear of what her son and daughter-in-law will think. Hagar seems to think that Marvin's wife, Doris is fat, and Hagar does not like her at all.

Hagar was very clever at school and pleased her father because of it. At times, whenever Hagar would get a star for her work, her father would reward her with candies from the store. Every night for an hour, Hagar and her two brothers would have to sit at the table and do their homework. If the homework was complete before the hour time span was up, their father would set up sums and would help the children to do them. When the time came Auntie Doll would poke her head in from the kitchen and remind their father of the children's bedtime.

The Wachakwa river always froze over very well and was perfect for skating on. It was also perfect for cutting blocks of ice out as Mr. Doherty always made his sons do, because he owned the Manawaka Icehouse. One day when Dan, Hagar's brother, was showing off for the girls, he skated right into one of the holes where they cut a block of ice. Matt came and pulled him out and then, with the help of Hagar, walked Dan all the way across town to their house. The next day Dan came down with pneumonia, and the next night he died. While on his death bed Dan wanted his mother so Matt got out her shawl and tried to convince Hagar to comfort him. Nevertheless, she would not so Matt did it himself.

Hagar, rejoining the present day, trips over her bedroom rug on her way downstairs to have a cup of tea. Doris and Marvin both make an extremely big deal about her falling over. They point out that Marvin is getting too old to continue picking her up every time she falls. While having a cup of tea, Marvin and Doris bring up the idea of selling the house. This really disturbs Hagar because it is her house, and her son wants to sell it. After the subject of selling the house causes a great deal of aggravation, they drop the whole idea so not to aggravate Hagar any more.

This chapter ends with Doris suggesting that Hagar meet with Mr. Troy, the priest at church.

Chapter Two Summary and Questions

Chapter two begins with Hagar meeting with Mr. Troy. While meeting with Mr. Troy, although she thinks he does not care much, Hagar starts telling him her life story. She begins her story with her going to the young ladies' academy in Toronto. When Hagar found out that she was going to the Young Ladies Academy she did not think that she should be the one going to college. She thought that Matt should be the one getting the College education. She did not want to say anything because she wanted to go, but was afraid that if she mentioned anything to her father, he would send Matt instead of her.

Hagar's father did not let her go to many dances. Nevertheless, one time under the supervision of Auntie Doll, Hagar was permitted to go to a dance only because it was a fund-raiser to build a new hospital. At the dance Hagar met Bram Shimpley. He was a great dancer. As heavy as he was he was light on his feet. Bram was previously married but his wife, who was fourteen years younger than he, died. After their dance Lottie told Hagar that Bram was not the person she should be seen with she explained to her that he had been seen with half breed girls. Hagar wanted to marry Bram but her father refused but none-the-less she married him. No one came to their wedding except Auntie Doll. Auntie Doll said that Matt had given her mother's shawl to give to Hagar as a present but at the last minute he changed his mind and took it back. After the wedding Bram took Hagar to his home where Bram gave Hagar her wedding present, a cut-glass decanter with a silver top.

After recollecting this portion of her life to Mr. Troy Mr. Troy noticed that a great deal of time had passed and he must be on his way so he left. Following Mr. Troy's departure Hagar notices a circled add in the paper but she cannot make it out. She makes her way to the kitchen table to read the add. It reads, "Only the Best Will Do for MOTHER," the add goes on to describe a nursing home. Doris notices that Hagar has read the paper but avoids talking about the subject altogether. After a bit of small talk Hagar states that there is no way she will go to the nursing home. Doris causes Hagar to drop the subject saying that she is getting worked up so Hagar goes and sits where all her things are around her.

Throughout Hagar's life everyone has called her several things, but they have never really called her Hagar. Bram was the only one that ever called her Hagar not mother or daughter or even wife just simply Hagar.

Chapter Three Summary and Questions

Chapter three begins with Hagar and Doris waiting in the doctor's office, while waiting Hagar notices two pictures in the doctor's office. Hagar remembers that when she first went to the Shipley house, her husband's house, there were no pictures. Throughout the time that she lived in that house she had succeeded to put up a couple of pictures. One picture Hagar particularly liked was one entitled, "The Horse Fair."

Bram never really cared for the picture. He much preferred real horses, which Hagar was terrified of but never let Bram know. Hagar let Bram believe that the smell was what bothered her. One year when Bram made some money, as did everyone else, because wheat was doing well, he invested in buying horses. Bram bought a strong gray stallion that he called soldier, from Henry Pearl and a few mares. In the spring they had colts but when it came to selling them Bram never got a good price for them, mainly because he was not a very good business man.

One cold winter day Bram left the gate to the horse's stall unlatched. He thought he would only be gone a few minutes but he forgot all about it. When Bram went to check on the horses, they were nowhere to be found. A little while later the mare that was in the stall had returned but Soldier was still missing. Bram loved the horse so much that although it was minus forty outside he took the storm lantern and went out to search for the horse. Bram returned a while later but he did not find the horse. The next spring they found Soldier's body. He had caught his leg in a barbed wire fence and the cold killed him.

After eating supper Marvin and Doris take Hagar for a ride without telling her where they are going. Suddenly they pass through a set of iron gates with SILVERTHREADS written across the top. Hagar suddenly realizes that she is going to the old age home. Hagar really does not want to go to the home and causes a big fuss in the car. Marvin and Doris assure her that they are only visiting to look around. While taking the tour Hagar is very uncooperative but at the end of the tour Hagar agrees to sit on the veranda and have a cup of tea.

While sitting on the veranda, Hagar remembers when she gave birth to Marvin. She remembered how Bram drove down the main area of the town and said hello to people on the way to the hospital. She remembers how cross she was with him when he said that if it were a boy it would be someone to leave the place to. Suddenly out of nowhere an old lady came up to Hagar and starts complaining about how Mrs. Thorlakson did not come down for supper and how Mrs. Thorlakson gets the best of things. Then after the old lady that was talking to her left another came and was a little friendlier toward Hagar. They sat and talked about family and looked at some pictures. They also talk about where Hagar is going to go if she does not go to the home and after a quick word about that Hagar leaves in a hurry.

Before she leaves Hagar notices that there are also men at this home after seeing a log cabin with the shadow of a man standing within. Doris runs outside to get Hagar and they get back into the car to go home.

Chapter Four Summary and Questions

As the chapter begins, the elderly Hagar complains to herself about the barrage of

X-rays she's had to undergo. After, she is finally called in for the X-rays and proceeds

without the accompaniment of Doris. While she is in the X-ray room, she is forced to

drink Barium, which Hagar dislikes thoroughly. As she waits for the procedure to

commence, she lapses into another flashback. She recalls her earlier life at the Shipley

place, and the effort she put forth to keep the house spotless. Also, she remembers her

husband Bram, whom she recalls as being a hard worker, but none too bright. He was

caught by the R.C.M.P. "relieving hisself" on the steps of Hagar's father's store.

Although the X-rays reveal nothing "organically" wrong with Hagar, Doris thinks

that Hagar would be better off in a nursing home, while Marvin disagrees, and tells Hagar

that she can stay at home if she wants. To settle the issue, Doris schedules a meeting

between Hagar and the clergyman, Mr. Troy. Ultimately, the meeting ends in a stalemate.

Hagar then remembers her son John, and his relatively easy birth. She recalls how

much she loved John, and how much Bram disliked him. Hagar also recalls how she

earned some money for herself from the egg money Bram took in. In addition, she

remembered the time when Marvin joined the army at the age of seventeen to fight in the

First World War. Meanwhile, John suffered embarrassment over Bram, whom the kids

made jokes about. As time passed, Hagar's relationship with John became strained.

In the present, Hagar wakes up and goes for a walk with Doris, during which she

sees a girl with black nail polish. She makes a comment about it, and draws an evil stare

from the girl, making her feel miserable. At the end of the chapter, Hagar is told by

Marvin, in no uncertain terms, that she will be going to the nursing in one week.

Questions for Chapter Four

Multiple Choice

1.) Hagar is forced to drink what substance during her X-ray?

a) beryllium

b) boron

c) chlorophyll

d) barium

2.) Mr. Troy asks Hagar if she believes in something. What is it?

a) heaven

b) God

c) God's infinite mercy

d) Saint John's Revelation

3.) What was John's horse's name?

a) Bartholomew

b) Bramble

c) Pibroch

d) Durham

Fill in the Blanks

1.) Hagar bought a _______________ to play music.

2.) One music piece Hagar couldn't buy was Beethoven's _______________ Symphony.

3.) At one point, John was friends with the _______________ boys.

Short Answer Questions

1.) Briefly describe John's relationship with Bram. How did it differ from Marvin's relationship with Bram.

2.) Explain how Hagar was able to pay for the music accessories she purchased.

3.) What was John caught doing by Hagar at the railroad tracks?

Essay Question

1.) Write a five paragraph position essay either supporting or debating Hagar's view concerning God and the afterlife in general. Use support from the entire novel for your argument.

Chapter Five Summary and Questions

As chapter five begins, Hagar is plotting her "escape" by using her old-age

pension check to get her to Shadow Point. When Hagar falls asleep in the middle of her

conspiracy, she recalls the day she and John left Bram and Manawaka behind them.

While on the train, John confesses to Hagar that he traded his plaid pin for a jackknife.

When the elderly Hagar awakens, she recalls her plan to sneak away to Shadow

Point. She furtively obtains the check from the den desk, finds her way to the bank, and

eventually manages to travel to her destination. She happens across a convenience store,

and buys some food items. Hagar then hitches a ride to the "old fish-cannery road." She

descends the steps to the Point, and once there she finds an abandoned building. She then

establishes the building as her new "home."

The scene then switches to the past, and Hagar's stay at Mr. Oatley's house. She

served as a maid / cook for Mr. Oatley. John also stayed with his mother at Mr. Oatley's.

He led Hagar to believe that he was doing well in school, and that he had acquired many

friends. However, Hagar discovered that John was lying about having any friends.

Nevertheless, she encouraged John, telling him that he would take after his grandfather

and be successful. When John entered high school, he made real friends, as well as girl

friends. The chapter ends with the elderly Hagar lying on an old bed in the abandoned

house, trying to pray but finding it no more useful now than it was before.

Questions for Chapter Five

Multiple Choice

1.) What place did Hagar plan on going to?

a) Winnipeg

b) Manawaka

c) Point Black

d) Shadow Point

2.) What did John trade for a jackknife?

a) money

b) clothing

c) plaid pin

d) none of the above

3.) Who employed Hagar?

a) Mr. Reilly

b) David Connor

c) Mr. Oakley

d) none of the above

Fill in the Blanks

1.) While descending the steps, Hagar recalls the poem featuring Meg _______________.

2.) Of all the preparations Hagar made, the one important thing she forgot was _______________.

3.) John didn't make real friends until he started attending _______________.

Short Answer Questions

1.) What did John lie to Hagar about while they were living at Mr. Oatley's?

2.) How does Hagar think Doris will act if she returned?

3.) What did Hagar discover when she called Mrs. Connor?

Essay Question

1.) Write a five paragraph character analysis of John. Make sure to make reference to specific events that occur within chapter five.

Chapter Six Summary and Questions

As chapter six begins, Hagar awakens in the abandoned building, and realizes that

it is raining outside. She is cold and sore, and fears moving lest she fall with no one

nearby to help her. She worries momentarily that the rain would mask the footsteps of a

possible intruder. Hagar then becomes confused, thinking that it was Marvin and Doris

who left her, and not the other way around.

Hagar then enters into another flashback in which she recalls John trying to earn

enough money to attend college. Eventually, he decides to return to the Shipley place to

work there. When Hagar cries that Bram might be dead, John replies to the contrary, and

reveals that he and Marvin have been communicating with Bram through letters. John

hitched a ride on a train back to the Shipley place.

Two years later, John wrote to Hagar telling her that Bram was dying. She

immediately traveled to the Shipley place. When she arrived, she found Manawaka

stricken by drought, John a shadow of his former self, and Bram an invalid. John looked

after Bram, while Hagar didn't do much to aid him. It becomes apparent that John has

become a great deal like his father, both in the way he talks and the way he acts.

Hagar and John later travel to the cemetery to see if the Currie plot has been cared

for. When they arrive, they notice that the stone angel has been toppled over. With a great

deal of effort, John managed to place the angel upright, and cleaned off the lipstick

someone had applied to the statue.

A short time later, Bram died. Hagar had him buried in the Currie plot, the grave

stone reading Currie on one side, and Shipley on the other. In the end, it was John who

cried for Bram, not Hagar.

Questions for Chapter Six

Multiple Choice

1.) Which Psalm does Hagar make reference to in this chapter?

a) 12

b) 23

c) 35

d) 90

2.) Who was it that actually wrote letters to Bram?

a) John

b) Marvin

c) Hagar

d) Mr. Oatley

3.) What disaster occurred at Manawaka?

a) plague

b) tornado

c) drought

d) explosion

Fill in the Blanks

1.) John said that Bram's handwriting is like _______________ on snow.

2.) The stone angel was smeared with _______________.

3.) Charlie Bean died by _______________ to death.

Short Answer Questions

1.) Explain the role Charlie Bean played in John's youth.

2.) Describe how John acts in this chapter.

3.) What is John's opinion of Arlene Simmons?

Essay Question

1.) Write a one paragraph comparison essay concerning John's behavior in this chapter, and Bram's previous behavior.

Chapter Seven Summaries and Questions

Awaking one morning, Hagar strolls down to the beach to get some water. On the beach there are two children playing house around six , Hagar noting their playing decides to warn the girl to stop being so bossy to the boy, when she speaks up, the children are frightened and run away.

She then decides to eat but the food is unappealing to her. She takes a stroll in the forest and sits in her quiet place and notices her surroundings and reviewed the incident with the children on the beach.

When Bram died, Hagar, informed Mr. Oatley of the death and decided to stay in Manawaka for a few more weeks.

Upon her return, Hagar becomes board, and decides to clean up the attic. She comes across a wooden box which belonged to Clara, Bram's first wife. Hagar decides to deliver the box to Bram's daughter Jess. When she arrived she noticed that John's car is parked there and she listens in on their conversation. Being annoyed by the intimacy between them, Hagar walks in finally and gives the box to Jess and takes John home with her.

Hagar, unaware of the relationship between Arlene and John until she brought him home on one occasion when John got drunk and got into a fight (Hagar was convinced that this was a mocking gesture towards her).

At the beginning of summer, Hagar returned to Manawaka and noticed how clean the house was, finding out that Arlene was responsible for the cleaning. Arlene had lost her job as a teacher and spent the year with John. Arlene was in love with John at this point and wanted to marry him. Hagar hated the idea because John was a drunk and neither of them had two nickels. Arlene argued that Hagar did not know John the way she did.

Hagar discussed the situation with John that night, trying to convince him that Arlene family was nothing special. John made it clear it was none of her concern. She retired for the night.

One day Hagar was eves dropping on the conversation of John and Arlene and their plans to marry when Hagar leaves for the coast. Arlene expressed to John about bearing his children, the thought of John and Arlene making love in her home fumed Hagar.

After discussing this with Lottie, they agreed Arlene should leave Manawaka for a while. A month passed and finally Hagar objected to her visiting John. John did not bring Arlene to the house for some time after this.

Hagar decided she could not return to the old house again, the stairs were too much for her. She would move to the canary building.

Questions for Chapter Seven

Multiple Choice

1.)What was Hagar's reaction to the children on the beach?

  1. did not care
  2. the boy was too bossy
  3. the girl was too bossy
  4. they were pests annoying her

2.)When cleaning her attic Hagar found

  1. nothing but junk
  2. a wooden box
  3. a steamer trunk
  4. a diary

3)What was Hagar's reaction to the idea of the marriage of John and Arlene

  1. she was happy
  2. she hated the idea
  3. she thought it would never work
  4. Arlene is dreaming and John is drunk

Fill in the Blanks

  1. The wooden box belonged to _______.

  1. The Simmons family was nothing to ________________________________.

Short Answer

1.) What relevance does the children playing on the beach have to do with Hagar?

2.) Describe Hagar's Emotions when she hears John and Arlene making love.

Chapter Eight Summaries and Questions

The cannery building seems to be a place of remembrance and oddities. A Large room cluttered with boxes, fishing nets and an old boat. She used the boxes as table and chair and was quite content.

Suddenly she fell to the floor, she could not remember what she had done that day and the pain in her chest kept bothering her. A sea gull flew into the house, Hagar remembered the old saying about a sea gull flying onto the house meant death.

At that point Murray Ferney Lees an insurance salesman barged in and lit a candle, the two shared a bottle of wine were Murray shared his life story with Hagar. Murray had gotten his wife pregnant before they were married and he being an active member envagelical Advocates. Felt that the death of their child was punishment for his sin. Hagar shared her experience of loosing a child.

Murray could not decide who's fault it was: his grandfather for being a "bible puncher", his mother who drove him to evangelical religion, his wife or his own. Hagar and Murray settled down to sleep.

Hagar recalled that John had mentioned Arlene was moving east for a year. John suspected that Hagar knew of the plan for john to get Arlene pregnant before she left. Hagar never brought back to the Shipley home again.

That night, Henry Pearl came to the door, john had been in an accident, he was in the hospital. John got drunk at a dance and took a bet that he could drive across the railroad trestle bridge. An unscheduled freight train hit John's truck. Arlene was in the truck with him, she was killed on impact. In hospital, John cried out for his mother's help. Before she could speak or move, John looked at her realizing she could not help him. And then he died.

Hagar refused to cry in front of stingers, when she got home, she could not cry. She felt a "transformation to stone". She could only think of all the things Hagar never set right. After John's funeral, she would not go back to the cemetery.

She tried to talk to Lottie but she was to ill. Hagar found comforting the presence of Telford. She sent everything of value in her home to Marvin and sold the home. She returned to Mr. Oatley.

The following year he died, leaving Hagar ten thousand dollars in his will. With this she bought a home.

Murray sought to comfort her, but insisted that John's death was senseless, and would be angry over it until she died. Again they both settled down to sleep.

Hagar awoke vomiting and Murray settled her down so that she could sleep again.

Questions for Chapter Eight

Multiple Choice

  1. Hagar knew the plan of Arlene and John it was to
    1. run off together
    2. get Arlene pregnant before she left
    3. move in together
    4. break up for good

2.) John died as a result of

  1. Hagar's nagging
  2. an accident with a freight train
  3. committing suicide
  4. drinking too much

Fill in the Blanks

  1. Hagar regarded John's death as ____________.

  1. Hagar awoke and ___________.

Short Answer

  1. Describe the circumstances that led to the death of John and Arlene.

  1. With whom did Hagar confuse Murray Lees? Why did his words bring comfort?

  1. Give account for the similarities between Hagar and Murray Lees

Chapter Nine Summaries and Summaries

In the mourning, Hagar awoke stiff and sore, Murray had left but covered her with his jacket too keep warm. She could hardly believe she had gotten drunk with a perfect stranger and then spent the night beside him. She also felt recently bereaved; she did not know why.

Murray had brought Marvin and Doris, Hagar was relived to see Marvin even though she despised her own weakness in rejoicing at being captured. As per usual, Hagar refused the help of Doris. Hagar then apologized for the other night.

In the car, there was no doubt that Hagar was going to the old people's home. It had been discovered that Hagar was seriously ill. In hospital, Hagar lay in public ward because he was unable t attain any other accommodations. She felt like a "museum exhibit". The nurse on duty gave Hagar her pills. Touched by the nurses sympathy, she wept.

The woman in the bed next to her was Elva Jardine, she rattled on incessantly. Hagar got rid of her attention by being rude and the aid of more soothing pills, she settled into a "haze lethargy".

When Marvin visited, she was happy to see him, it seem though all she could do was complain about the accommodations. Marvin assured her that he would find a semi-private room. Hagar felt ashamed, she knew that Doris was not well.

When Mrs. Jardine came back from the bathroom, Hagar learned that Mrs. Dobereiner's words in German were in part a prayer of death. Mrs. Reilly prayed a great deal.

Mrs. Jardine revealed that her and her husband lived only twenty five miles from Manawaka. Hagar warmed to the interest on Mrs. Jardine

When the doctor visited the next day, Hagar asked for a hypo when she needed it, the doctor readily agreed. Then Marvin and Doris came to visit, Hagar felt her old contempt for Doris, thinking how ridiculous Doris' hat looked with fake flowers in it. Doris informed her that Tina was getting mar********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************ttention by being ______ to her and aided by more ___________ .

  1. Tina was going to be married to a young _________.

Short Answer

  1. Give an account for Hagar's early behavior in the hospital

2.) Give an account for Hagar's change in behavior.

3.)why was Hagar ashamed to listen to the conversation between Mrs. Reilley and her husband?

Chapter Ten Summaries and Questions

Worried at the cost, Hagar lay in a semi-private room. In the night, Hagar half asleep, left her bed. She was making for a light, confident that if she reached it Bram would call her name. A Nurse led her back to her room and insisted on restraining her. Hagar apologized and went back to bed.

When Hagar woke, the bed next to her was occupied by a sixteen year old girl named Sandra Wong, she was to have an appendectomy. Hagar reassured the girl that everything would be fine.

The next day went by slowly, Sandra was recovering from her operation and Hagar was drifting in and out of drugged sleep. Hagar was visited by Mr. Troy, to which she requested he sing a hymn. The visit caused Hagar to cry. Mr. Troy assumed he failed but Hagar could not assure him that she enjoyed her visit. Doris came by to pick up Mr. Troy and Hagar expressed thanks to Doris and Mr. Troy but Doris did not believe her.

Hagar was later visited by her grand son Steven who reminded her of the jaw breakers she would give him. She realized she was nothing more than a grand mother who gave money and candy.

When Sandra awoke, she was feeling pain , Sandra was upset at Hagar for lying to her and asked the nurse to be moved. The nurse quietly informed the nurse of Hagar's condition. Sandra then wondered if would happen if Hagar died in the night. In the days that followed Hagar was confused of Sandra's concern for her. She would come over to the bed, bringing water, or pulling the curtains to when Hagar wanted to sleep.

When Marvin had visited , Hagar confessed she was frightened. Marvin apologized for the harsh word he said to her, he took her hand and Hagar thought of asking for his pardon but she knew that is not what he wanted at that moment.

Hagar recalled her last trip to Manawaka with Marvin and Doris. The Shipley placed had vanished and replaced with a new house and a new barn. At the cemetery, the angel was still standing. A young care taker not knowing who they were was enthusiastic about the cemetery. He pointed to the stone bearing the names Currie and Shipley . they were the earliest pioneering families in the district.

Hagar lay in her "cocoon", Sandra announced she could go home in a few days. When she left Hagar tried to remember something "truly free" she had done in her ninety years. There were only two things that came to mind. One was a joke , and another was a lie. Yet it had not really been a lie "for it was spoken at least and at last with what may perhaps be a kind of love.

As the pain increased she asked Doris for a glass of water in her usual tone and insisted on holding it herself.

And then she died.

Questions for Chapter Ten

Multiple Choice

  1. the girl in the bed next to Hagar was
    1. having an appendectomy
    2. having a blood transfusion
    3. there to comfort Hagar
    4. a spy hired by the nurses to check up on Hagar.

  1. up to her death Hagar treated Doris with
    1. bitterness
    2. respect
    3. love
    4. affection

Fill in the Blanks

  1. Hagar tried to recall something ___________.

  1. Hagar thought do asking Marvin for his __________.

Short Answer

  1. Give the account of Marvin's last visit to his mother.

  1. What was the joke Hagar had enjoyed? What was the lie she had told? Why did she regard them as significant?

Essay Questions

  1. Explain the relevance of the title of the novel to the novel as a whole.

  1. Justify the use of coherent argumentation, the reading of a novel about a ninety year old women by younger people

Answers for Chapter Seven

Multiple Choice

  1. c
  2. b
  3. b

Fill in the Blanks

  1. Clara
  2. write home about

Answers for Chapter Eight

Multiple Choice

  1. b
  2. b

Fill in the Blanks

  1. senseless
  2. vomited

Answers for Chapter Nine

Multiple Choice

  1. b
  2. c

Fill in the Blanks

  1. rude, pin pills
  2. lawyer

Answers for Chapter Ten

Multiple Choice

1.) a

  1. a

Fill in the Blanks

  1. truly free
  2. pardon

Biblical Archetypes

The Biblical Archetypes in The Stone Angel:

A Comparison Between the Bible and The Stone Angel

Often times great novels and plays allude to religion, to mythology, or to other literary works for dramatic purposes. Shakespearean plays are perfect examples. Allusions help the reader or spectator better understand, through visualization, a character or an event in a novel. In some cases, the characters, the events, or a series of events are structured according to the people and the action in other stories, whether the stories be religious, mythological, classical, or historical. The character or the event, therefore, becomes a prototype of the character or event alluded to. A prototypical character in a novel is usually referred to as an archetype.

The Stone Angel, a chronicle of Hagar Shipley's life, purposely or coincidentally parallels the Biblical story of Hagar, the Egyptian bondwoman, from the book of Genesis; thus, Hagar Shipley is an archetype of the Biblical Hagar. In fact, many of the events and people in The Stone Angel are similar to the events and people from the book of Genesis. The most important archetypal reference, however, is Hagar herself, for many of the things she does, says, and represents are indicative of the things the Biblical Hagar does, says, and represents. Aside from sharing the same name, to what extent does Hagar Shipley resemble the Egyptian Hagar, and, to what extent does The Stone Angel resemble the book of Genesis? Although both stories are very similar, they are also very different. These similarities and these differences become apparent upon examination of Hagar, John, Marvin, Bram, and the Biblical characters they parallel.

As earlier stated, Hagar Shipley's character is very similar to the Egyptian Hagar from the book of Genesis. Upon examination of the similarities, please keep in mind the difference between the time periods of the two stories. How do the two Hagars resemble each other? Both women hold relatively similar social positions. The Biblical Hagar is an Egyptian bondwoman bought as a servant for Sarah, Abram's wife. Hagar, by law, is bound to Sarah. Her freedom and spirit are restricted, or dictated, by Abram and Sarah. This ownership extends as far as Abram having possession of Hagar's body. When Sarah does not or cannot give Abram a child, Hagar is expected to do so. Dutifully, she bears him a son named Ishmael.

In the same fashion that the law binds the Biblical Hagar to Abram and Sarah, Hagar Shipley is bound by - as D. Blewett points out - the Currie code of values, the Shipley freedom, and the Manawakan elitist attitude, in addition to her own pride (Blewett 36). Hagar Shipley is a modernized version of the Biblical Hagar, in that, people can no longer be bound as slaves in western culture but are, quite often, bound by personal or social restraints, like Hagar is. Hagar's freedom is limited by the conflicting influences - internal versus external - in her own life. The Currie virtue keeps Hagar from expressing any outward form of emotion, which, ultimately, limits or ruins the majority of her relationships, including her marriage to Brampton Shipley. Initially attracted to the Shipley casualness and freedom, because it is the exact opposite to the Currie conformity, Hagar marries Bram, a poor farmer and social outcast. Her marriage, however, seems to be more out of spite than anything else. Having gone from one extreme to the other, Hagar realizes that the Shipley freedom or, more accurately, laziness is not what she wants or needs. In the meantime, Hagar, like her archetype, plays the role of "the dutiful wife." She engages in sexual activity with Bram even though she does not want to. As a result, she bears a son, Marvin, whom she never really loves or cares for. In addition, Hagar, having been a part of the Manawakan elite, is bound to their unwritten codes of conduct and values the same way that the Biblical Hagar is bound, by law, to Abram and Sarah. In order to elude additional persecution, both Hagar's have to conform to the laws of their respective cultures and time periods. Hagar, already an outcast for marrying Brampton, excludes herself from social activities in order to avoid being ridiculed by the upper class Manawakans, including her father. Both Hagars are also bound by pride, a pride which, more than anything else, influences the decisions both women make with the little freedom they have. The Biblical Hagar's pride grows when she bears Abram a son. As a result, she is rude to Sarah. After being reprimanded for her insolence, Hagar flees to the desert because she, filled with pride, cannot tolerate further degradation. Similarly, Hagar Shipley, tired of being persecuted on account of Bram, leaves Manawaka to reestablish and restart her life in Ontario. Both characters, however, are drawn back home. The Biblical Hagar returns to Abram only after an angel appears to her and foretells that Ishmael will bring great posterity. Hagar Shipley is drawn back to Manawaka for different reasons - duty and family. John, her youngest son whom she loves dearly, lives in Manawaka with his father, Bram. As Bram becomes ill, Hagar, impelled to help him and her son, returns to the Shipley farm. Both women return home on account of their sons. Almost immediately after their return, however, both women leave again and set off to wander in the wilderness. The archetypal Hagar physically wanders in the wilderness where she finds God and becomes reassured that her son will have a great nation of descendants. In The Stone Angel, Hagar leaves Manawaka again only to return to her wilderness of pride, where she too finds God. Hagar realizes that "Pride was (her) wilderness, and the demon that lead (her) there was fear. (She) was alone, never anything else, and never free, for (she) carried her chains within (her), and they spread out from (her) and shackled all that (she) touched" (Laurence 292). Hagar, like her Biblical version, found her God - freedom and peace of mind.

In addition to having similar life experiences, both Laurence's Hagar and the Biblical Hagar have comparable relationships. Hagar, from the book of Genesis, shares a bed with Abram, but nothing else. Their relationship is purely physical. Hagar Shipley's relationship with Bram is also physical, for the most part. Hagar and Bram are not connected spiritually. In fact, Hagar and Bram barely see eye to eye on many issues - primarily about their work and social life. Many scenes depict Bram and Hagar as nothing more than bedmates, and, even then, Hagar is reluctant to share with Bram. The few times that Hagar does miss Bram, she is alone, in bed, at night; Hagar never longs for Bram during the day. Secondly, Hagar's relationship with John parallels the Biblical Hagar's relationship with Ishmael. Both women love their sons dearly and are willing to do just about anything for them. Hagar, also known as Agar, prayed to God, asking for Him to save her son from starvation in the desert. Hagar, the protagonist in The Stone Angel, prayed to God, or found God, in order to reconcile with John. Although her reconciliation with John came through Murray F. Lees posing as her dead son, Hagar still makes peace with him. Unlike Hagar's relationship with John, she has a poor relationship with Marvin. Hagar and Marvin's relationship is similar to the Biblical Hagar's relationship with Sarah's son, Isaac. Having never really loved Marvin as her own son, Hagar ignores him and yells at him when he attempts to be helpful. Although Isaac is not her biological son, Hagar is Abram's second wife; thus, Isaac is also her son. Hagar, along with Ishmael, ridicules Isaac in the same unloving fashion that Hagar Shipley ignores Marvin. Both Hagars love one son with all their hearts while they ignore or ridicule the other.

The similarities in the two Hagars and in their relationships become more apparent by comparing their relationships with their husband's first wives. Both Laurence's Hagar and the Biblical Hagar are second wives. Abram's first wife is Sarah; Bram's, Clara. The Biblical Hagar, initially Sarah's servant, does not respect and honour Sarah whatsoever, after she is made Abram's second wife. Hagar is rude with Sarah and her son, Isaac. In The Stone Angel, Hagar marries Bram, who has been previously married. Although Clara, Bram's first wife, is dead, Hagar is still impudent to her, for she does not honour her memory. Rather than mourning Bram's loss, Hagar jests at Clara's obesity, uncleanliness, and simple-mindedness. Hagar does not pretend to even like Clara, although she does not know her. In addition, Bram and Clara have two daughters, two daughters whom Hagar ridicules the way the Biblical Hagar mocks Isaac.

In addition to the similarities between the two Hagars, John and Marvin, Hagar's sons, parallel Jacob and Esau, direct descendants of Abram and Sarah. In Hagar's eyes, John is her Jacob. Hagar protects and favours John the same way that Rebekah favours Jacob. In the Bible, Isaac, a blind man, plans to bestow his final blessings upon Esau, his eldest son. Rebekah, having overheard Isaac's intentions, instructs Jacob to take Esau's place and to receive his brother's blessings. As such, Jacob is blessed by Isaac and flees into the wilderness - upon his mother's instruction - out of fear of Esau. Similarly, John flees from his family and into his own wilderness, Manawaka. In Manawaka John tends to his dying father, Bram, and receives Bram's blessing before his death. Marvin never receives Bram's blessing, even though they were close when Marvin was a child. John, in essence, takes Marvin's place. More important, however, in this comparison is the relationship each boy shares with Hagar. Hagar, having always been inclined to love John more, wants John to be her Jacob and to want and to receive her blessing. She says, "I wish he could have looked like Jacob then, wrestling with the angel and besting it" (Laurence 179), as John struggles to lift the stone angel tombstone for Hagar. John dies before Hagar receives a chance to bestow her blessings upon him. It is only in dying that Hagar realizes, through Marvin's kindness, that Marvin is her Jacob. He is the son that loves and cares for her more than anything else. Hagar states, "Now it seems to me he (Marvin) is truly Jacob, gripping with all his strength, and bargaining. I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And I see I am thus strangely cast, and perhaps have been so from the beginning and can only release myself by releasing him" (Laurence 304). He will not let Hagar go "gentle into that good night"(Thomas, prologue). Marvin finally receives Hagar's blessings, the blessings that John had, for so long, undeservingly taken.

Hagar, Bram, John, and Jacob each bear great similarity to their Biblical characters. The depth of the similarity between The Stone Angel and the Bible depends completely upon the reader and the objective he/she takes in attempting to compare or contrast the two stories. What I am saying is that the reader can choose to acknowledge or ignore the similarities depending upon personal opinion - this is greatness of the novel. With or without any Biblical reference, Hagar remains a great character. She does not need any archetypal reference for the reader to feel her pain, joy, fear, or anger. The archetype only makes her stronger.

In summation, any student comparing or contrasting the Biblical archetypes in The Stone Angel should consider and examine several aspects before delving into their work. As a tip, before writing anything, ask yourself to what extent, in your own view, does Hagar and all other characters match their archetypes, if at all? Are the two stories similar enough that their resemblance is, in no way, accidental? These questions will help strengthen your arguments.

Bibliography and Works Cited

Blewett, D.. "The Unity of the Manawaka Cycle." The World of the Novel: A Student's Guide to Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel. Ed. Lillian Perigoe and Beverly Copping. Scarborough: Prentice Hall Inc., 1983. 36.

Laurence, Margaret. The Stone Angel. Toronto: McClelland &Stewart Inc., 1988.

Thomas, Dylan. "Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night." The Stone Angel. Margaret Laurence. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Inc.,1988. Prologue.