What is the meaning of this phrase from the novel The Stone Angel? " I wonder if she stands there yet, in memory of her who relinquished her feeble ghost as I gained my stubborn one, my mother's...
What is the meaning of this phrase from the novel The Stone Angel?
" I wonder if she stands there yet, in memory of her who relinquished her feeble ghost as I gained my stubborn one, my mother's angel that my father bought in pride to mark her bones and proclaim her dynasty, as he fancied, forever and a day. "
In The Stone Angel, Hagar Shipley is the protagonist of the novel. At ninety, she is forced to realize that her days are numbered. However, as she reminisces about her life, she comes to understand that her personal failures stem from her pride and her inability to forgive, the same challenges which have haunted her father all of his life.
By all indications, Hagar breathes her first breath on earth just as her mother breathes her last. The quote you ask about constitutes the very first paragraph of the novel. In this paragraph, Hagar tells us that the stone angel used to stand on a hill, above the town. The fact that the stone angel no longer stands is a significant symbol in the novel.
Hagar's father commissions the building of the stone angel to memorialize his wife after her death. His pride is encapsulated in his desire to preserve his wife's memory and life beyond her death. The quote tells us that he wished to preserve his wife's bones and her dynasty for eternity. The stone angel itself is a paradox as we normally think of angels as kind and compassionate beings. We don't associate angels with cold, hard stone or marble. Effectively, the stone statue represents the shutting off of emotion, the coldness of an unforgiving heart, and the hopelessness of self-righteous pride. All these attributes characterize the life of Hagar up until the present, a state of affairs she must remedy if she desires to die in peace.