In the conclusion of Margaret Laurence's novel The Stone Angel, the main character, Hagar Shipley, finds herself confined to a hospital room, fighting to maintain control over herself and her surroundings in spite of her declining health. At the same time, she wants to let go and allow things to happen naturally and organically. Hagar knows that her time is near, and she reacts by alternating between wanting to be in control of her fate and surrendering her fate to those around her.
When she wakes to find the young girl Sandra Wong in the bed next to her, she lies to the girl in an attempt to displace the girl's fear of the operation she must have. The previous evening, Hagar had reacted to the nurse putting her in a bed jacket by insisting she doesn't need one and then apologizing for troubling the nurse. Her conflicting behavior is especially difficult for her son Marvin and Marvin's wife, Doris. When Hagar's nurse compliments Hagar for her constitution, Marvin replies "She's a holy terror." Doris responds by not accompanying Marvin on his final visit.
Hagar, in her final moments, comes face to face with the truth of her existence and toys with the idea of being the person those around her want to be—but she can't. Like the stone angel she identifies with, she is strong and resolute, but unable to sacrifice control.