Margaret Laurence

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In The Stone Angel, Hagar expresses her hatred for petunias, remarking on their presence in the care home and Currie Memorial Park. Explain why petunias upset her and how this affects her in her current stage of life.

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In The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence, Hagar Shipley’s aversion to petunias is symbolic and deeply rooted in her past experiences and personality. Petunias, often associated with commonness and lack of sophistication, represent Hagar’s disdain for mediocrity and her lifelong struggle with pride and self-perception. Hagar’s father, Jason Currie, was a man of significant pride and ambition, traits he passed on to Hagar. Throughout her life, Hagar has tried to distance herself from anything she perceives as ordinary or beneath her, striving always to maintain a sense of superiority and control. Petunias, in their simplicity and ubiquity, stand in stark contrast to the image Hagar has cultivated of herself and her family. This disdain for the ordinary reflects Hagar’s internal conflict and her inability to accept the commonplace aspects of life.

As Hagar approaches the end of her life, her hatred for petunias symbolizes her resistance to her current situation and the changes she faces. Being placed in a care home represents a loss of independence and control, which is a significant blow to someone as proud and self-reliant as Hagar. The mention of petunias in the context of the care home and Currie Memorial Park serves as a reminder of her perceived decline into ordinariness and dependency. This aversion to petunias highlights Hagar’s ongoing struggle with accepting her vulnerabilities and the inevitability of aging. Her fixation on such a seemingly trivial matter underscores her difficulty in coming to terms with the realities of her current stage of life, where she can no longer maintain the facade of strength and superiority that she has upheld for so long.

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Yes, the response generated is correct, and there are no stipulations about its accuracy. One incident you should consider demonstrates just how deeply Hagar hates petunias. After her father died, she entered the graveyard where he was buried and smashed them under her feet. She was unable to contain her hatred when she saw them -- a hateful symbol of mediocrity --surrounding the grave of the strict father who once believed she was extraordinary. Even though he gave away her inheritance when she married against his wishes, she still resents seeing petunias around his grave.

The flowers are at odds with how Hagar sees herself and her family; the blooms are common and cheap. Hagar doesn't believe herself to be ordinary. She thinks she deserves a different life. She looks back at her past and laments her choices now that she's close to the end. To her, petunias are just a reminder of the mundane and all life's little disappointments. Seeing them at the retirement home is another reminder of how little control she has over her life.

As an older woman soon to be moving into a retirement home, Hagar has to accept that her chance for an extraordinary life has passed her by. She thinks that she can't change anything but thinks "I can't say I like it, or accept it, or believe it's for the best. I don't and never shall, not even if I'm damned for it." She's still fighting against the idea of mediocrity even when it's too late. The petunias remind her of everything she failed to be. They're living reminders of her unremarkable life at its end.

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