The Stone Angel Domestic Confinement

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The Stone Angel Event by event, memory by memory the scales fall from Hagar’s eyes until she sees clearly her own nature. No longer blaming others, she dies courageously by being fully responsible for her own life. What are the stages of Hager’s enlightenment. The novel The Stone Angel portrays an image of a ninety-year-old woman, Hagar Currie, who confronts her past of personal failures in an attempt for rejuvenation before death. Hagar has lead a life dominated by authority and memories of whom she is expected to be.

As she goes through life she continually tries to escape from her fears and gain acceptance. Through events and journeys, Hagar is able to release herself from the restrictions that have prevented her from leading a satisfactory life. Thus, to reconcile with herself and her fate, Hagar must flee from three domestic confinements: her father, her husband and her eldest son. As a child, Hagar was hampered by the pride, social standards and disciplines of her father, Jason Currie. Hagar’s life had been dominated by the authority of her father and that is what drove her away from him. Jason Currie was a very proud, self-made man who pushed his values on his children.

It is easily seen that many of the father’s traits belong, also, to his daughter, such as his pride and stubbornness. Hagar is often closely compared to the stone angel that stands over her mother’s grave, doubly blind. It is for this reason that Hagar lived a joyless life for which she was unable to express herself. Jason Currie was excessively caught up in his own dynasty, his image, and was determined to have his children uphold this image. He wanted his children, especially Hagar, to display his pride and behave at the level of his standards.

Hager’s emotional reactions and superficial outlook were determined by the views expressed by her father’s examples and reinforced by punishment. With a father who will tolerate no weakness of any kind, Hagar learned how not to express any emotions. Such as when Hagar says ‘Oh, look! The funniest wee things, scampering’ (Pg. 9) while looking at the sultanas, her father’s commodities. This was an insult to her father’s reputation and pride and makes it known through punishment. However, no matter how much he strikes her hands she refuses to cry.

It is at this point that the reader sees how much like her father she really is. As she states ‘I wouldn’t let him see me cry, I was so enraged… He looked at my dry eyes in a kind of fury, as though he’d failed unless he drew water from them.’ (Pg. 9-10) Even her father sees how much they resemble each other. ‘You take after me… You ” ve got backbone, I’ll give you that.’ (Pg.

10) Hagar’s life as a child was dominated by her father to the extreme that she never developed her own self personality. It is a result of her father’s dominance and her won strong-willed personality that causes her to defy him when she decides to marry Bram Shipley. This is the first journey which Hagar embarks on. For her it is an escape not only from the domestic confinements at home but also an escape to find herself. As Hagar flees the confinements of home and her father she commences something new: crudeness, poverty, and a hopeless future. These are all aspects that she has never dealt with before and finds herself embarrassed.

She finds that Bram does not meet up to what her social standards are and she thinks of him as a failure. Hagar feels that she has retired from one confinement and landed in another. Hagar was able to defy her father and escape his restrictions but she soon finds that Bram, too, is a terrible mistake. She becomes even more heartless and is unable to show any empathy. Hagar is opposed to the idea of poverty and a hopeless future and strives considerably to change Bram.

Also she is disgusted at his crudeness as she explains why… .’ I remember a quarrel I had with Bram once. Sometimes he used to blow his nose with his fingers, a not unskilled performance… I spoke my disgust, not for the first time. It had gone on for years, but my words never altered him… He couldn’t string two words together without some crudity.’ (Pg.

79) Hagar finds herself judging and then rejecting Bram. Even after childbearing experiences, Hagar fails to share her inner self, love or gentleness. Thus, she receives no satisfaction or joy from her family. Hagar finds herself ashamed of her second domestic confinement. After years of poverty and crudeness, Hagar decides to flee a second time. This time the reasons are that: first, she can no longer rear her son, John, with dignity and second, that she finds herself dragged down by Bram.

Although she left her father’s house, she is still unable to lose her enforced values and find her true nature. Thus, she escapes confinement another time. Finally after years of limitations of poverty, Hagar is able to flee and she takes John with her. She works and eventually buys a house but she is getting old and ill and is in need of constant attention. Marvin, her other son, and his wife, Doris move in with her. Hagar turns more and more sharp-tongued and unrelenting with age.

Also she is becoming a burden on Marvin and Doris. When Silver threads, an old age home, is proposed she gets agitated and decides to flee a third time. Hagar lived a life utterly devoid of any joy, warmth and love. It is this third journey from domestic confinements that she finds her nature.

She runs away from Marvin to an abandoned cannery. After having a few drinks and listening to life stories of a complete stranger, Hagar is prompted to share herself. She enters the obscurities of her soul and in delirium makes amends with the death of her beloved son, John. She had always felt responsible for his death and was finally able to mourn. It was at this point, after fleeing from domestic confinements to the wilderness that she emerged from a lifelong inwardness. It is only after embarking on the third journey that Hagar experiences freedom for the first time and is able to reconcile.

After this she is able to cry, feel grief and gratitude, apologize, compliment, accept help and help another. She is aware that her pride and stubbornness have interfered with a satisfactory life. Lying on her death bed she is able to cleanse herself of personal failures and reach the self-discovery of her nature.

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