The Stone Angel

by

Margaret Laurence

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Arlene Simmons Character Analysis

The daughter of Lottie and Telford, Arlene is first introduced as a prissy and silly young girl, her wealthy parents’ only child. After the Depression hits Manawaka, though, Arlene takes up with John. The two become lovers, relieved that the class distinctions that once separated them from one another have been all but erased by the leveling force of the Great Depression. Arlene toughens up but remains somewhat flighty and idealistic, dreaming of marrying and sharing a life with John despite the fact that they’re both destitute and aimless. Hagar, seeing her own past mistakes in the one that she believes John and Arlene are about to make, severs the union before it can be cemented, leading John and Arlene to act out and put themselves in danger. Arlene and John are both killed in a terrible car accident, and the loss shakes Hagar and the Simmons family to their cores.

Arlene Simmons Quotes in The Stone Angel

The The Stone Angel quotes below are all either spoken by Arlene Simmons or refer to Arlene Simmons. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the University of Chicago Press edition of The Stone Angel published in 1964.
Chapter 6 Quotes

John put an arm around the girl’s shoulders, smearing her white pique dress.

“See you around, eh?” he said, and we left, he whistling and I bewildered.

“You could have been a little more polite,” I reproached him when we were out of earshot. “Not that I was much impressed with her. But still and all—”

“Polite!” He snorted with laughter. “That’s not what she wants from me.”

“What does she want—to marry you?”

“Marry? By Christ, no. She’d never marry a Shipley. It tickles her to neck with one, that’s all.”

“Don’t talk like that,” I snapped. “Don’t ever let me hear you speak like that again, John. In any case, she’s not the sort of girl for you. She’s bold and—”

“Bold? Her? She’s a rabbit, a little furry rabbit.”

“You like her, then?”

“Are you kidding? I’d lay her if I got the chance, that’s all.”

“You’re talking just like your father,” I said. “The same coarse way. I wish you wouldn’t. You’re not a bit like him.”

‘That’s where you’re wrong,” John said.

Related Characters: Hagar Shipley (speaker), John Shipley (speaker), Brampton “Bram” Shipley, Arlene Simmons
Page Number: 174
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Stone Angel LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Stone Angel PDF

Arlene Simmons Character Timeline in The Stone Angel

The timeline below shows where the character Arlene Simmons appears in The Stone Angel. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
...but “silly” girl on the front steps of Currie’s General Store—John introduced the girl as Arlene Simmons, the daughter of Lottie and Telford. After Arlene walked away, Hagar inquired about the... (full context)
Chapter 7
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
One night, to Hagar’s surprise, Arlene brought John home in her father’s car. John was drunk and nearly passed out, and... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
...town, but couldn’t recall anything about how he’d gotten home. When Hagar told him that Arlene had brought him back, he remarked that though Arlene had long liked to “fool around... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
...vacation. She was surprised to find that the place was clean and orderly—John revealed that Arlene had been coming out “quite a bit” to help out around the house. That very... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
Hagar warned Arlene not to marry John, citing his poverty and heavy drinking. Arlene retorted that John hadn’t... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
After dinner that night, John took Arlene home while Hagar sat up waiting for him to return, looking around the house and... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
...with a heavy blanket, Hagar awoke to the sound of whispers and footsteps. John and Arlene had come home, and after looking around for Hagar but believing her to be out... (full context)
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
...between their children. Lottie seemed to be fairly happy for the two of them, citing Arlene’s claims that John had “settled down.” Hagar said that she didn’t have anything against the... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
For the next month, Arlene came by the Shipley place every day, and her presence agitated Hagar. As a result,... (full context)
Chapter 8
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
One afternoon, back in Manawaka, John came into the house to tell Hagar that Arlene had decided to go East for a year to work. Arlene told John she was... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
...came down the tracks towards John, and John steered the truck off of the bridge. Arlene had been in the car, and had been killed instantly. John, however, was still alive—for... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
...apologizing to “John” for being cold to him, and for telling him he couldn’t bring Arlene to the house. Hagar waits for “John’s” response—Murray tells her that he forgives her for... (full context)