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Hagar Shipley is main character in The Stone Angel written by Margaret Laurence and goes through a rough life after growing up in the little town of Manawaka, Canada. At the age of ninety, she realized how stubborn and reserved she was to people she was closest to, her father, her brothers and her own son.
In Hagar’s younger years she was skating on the pond with Dan and Matt, her brothers when one of the, Dan, fell in the pond skating backwards, trying to impress some ladies. Back home Matt then asked Hagar to get and put on the old plaid shawl their mother used to wear, then comfort Dan who has pneumonia, just as their mother used to comfort the boys when they were little. But Hagar refused:
He turned to me then, and held both my hands in his, theonly time I ever recall my brother Matt doing such a thing. […] “I can’t. Oh Matt, I’m sorry, but I can’t, I can’t. I’m not a bit like her.” […] Before Matt let himself mourn or even tell me it went over, he came close to me and put both his hands on me – quiet gently, except that he put them around my throat. Pg. 25-26
This shows parts of Hagar and her stubbornness, she can not even comfort her own brother as it would make her appear as a weak young woman, thus completley against what she grew up with, her dad always drilled Hagar not to show any emotions in any situation but also the way she liked to be since she did not know the ‘other Hagar’.
She was taught to be stubborn, selfish and emotionless.
Hagars relationship to her own father was not the greatest since he never treated her the way a father is supposed to by showing pride of his girl, treating her with respect and actually show emotions, rather then just nodding after she has done something correctly:
When I repeated them all through […] he’d nod. Thats all he’d ever say, when I got it right. He never believed in wasting a word or a minute. Pg. 7
She was taught to be the cold-hearted lady and never to sympthasize with anyone.
Hagars entire life was a tragedy, she did not even hug her own son before he left to fight in the war.
I didn’t know what to say to him. I wanted to beg him to look after himself, to be careful, as one warns children against snowdrifts or thin ice or the hooves of horses, feeling the flimsy words may act as some kind of charm against disaster. I wanted all at once to hold him tightly, plead with him, against all reason and reality, not to go. Pg. 129
Hagar did not know what to say to him but she knew exactly what she would have done to him, hold him tightly and hug him for maybe the last time in her life, but then she is ashamed of doing so. Hagar, once again, is emotionless to people she is closest to, even her own son.
But I did not want to embarrass both of us, nor have him think I’d have taken leave of my senses. While I was hesitating, he spoke first.
Hagar is embarrassed of hugging her own son, as she says she does not want him to think that she would have taken leave of her senses, which, for her, was the total emotionless, stubbornness and monotonuesness. Hagar even hesitates to talk to him, she is totally lost with the feeling of insecurity about herself, her life and the way she lived it.
Those four incidents show how tragic Hagar was in her ‘lost life’, her own world created by herself with her stubbornness and her father, drilling into her head that showing emotions to anyone is the weakest thing to do. Hagar, ninty years old, does not know what emotions are, does not know what love is or even feels like.
“You call that love.” Lady, if that wasn’t, what is?” “I don’t know. I just don’t know, I’m sure.” Pg. 228