The Metaphor of Statue and its Symbolism in the Stone Angel
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.
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
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.
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.
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