The Stone Angel

by

Margaret Laurence

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Brampton “Bram” Shipley Character Analysis

Hagar’s coarse, crass, domineering husband Bram is a farmer fourteen years her senior, with two children from a previous marriage. Bram has a reputation throughout town as a shiftless, drunken womanizer—to Hagar, he represents the chance not only to escape from her father’s home but to publicly flout the controlling rules and traditional femininity her father has attempted to thrust upon her all her life. Hagar’s marriage to Bram gets her disowned from her family and cut out of her father’s will—but she is free for the first time in her life, and believes that she’ll eventually be able to change Bram into a respectful and dutiful husband. Hagar’s plan backfires, though—she is unable to change Bram’s ways, and as the years go by, she actually becomes more like him: weathered, worn, contemptuous of the social order and polite society. As Bram’s lazy indigence becomes more and more of a burden, though—and as Hagar realizes just how low she has stooped in the name of freedom, only to become more trapped than ever—she flees Manawaka with her youngest son John in tow. Bram doesn’t seem to care much about Hagar’s departure, and the two never really see one another again. Though Hagar returns to Manawaka to care for Bram in the weeks before his death, his brain has grown so addled by alcohol that he doesn’t even recognize her—a metaphor for the fact that the two never really saw one another for who they were throughout their entire marriage.

Brampton “Bram” Shipley Quotes in The Stone Angel

The The Stone Angel quotes below are all either spoken by Brampton “Bram” Shipley or refer to Brampton “Bram” Shipley. 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 4 Quotes

"Judas priest, woman, what do you want me to do? Get down on my bended knees?”

"I only want you to behave a little differently.”

“Well, maybe I’d like you different, too.”

“I don’t disgrace myself.”

“No, by Christ, you’re respectable—I’ll give you that.”

Twenty-four years, in all, were scoured away like sandbanks under the spate of our wrangle and bicker. Yet when he turned his hairy belly and his black haired thighs toward me in the night, I would lie silent but waiting, and he could slither and swim like an eel in a pool of darkness. Sometimes, if there had been no argument between us in the day, he would say he was sorry, sorry to bother me, as though it were an affliction with him, something that set him apart, as his speech did, from educated people.

Related Characters: Hagar Shipley (speaker), Brampton “Bram” Shipley (speaker)
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:

A Rest Room had recently been established in the town. I’d never been inside it, not fancying public conveniences. But I told John to let me off there that night. One room it was, with brown wainscoting and half a dozen straight chairs, and the two toilet cubicles beyond. No one was there. I made sure of that before I entered. I went in and found what I needed, a mirror. I stood for a long time, looking, wondering how a person could change so much and never see it. So gradually it happens.

I was wearing, I saw, a man’s black overcoat that Marvin had left. It was too big for John and impossibly small for Bram. It still had a lot of wear left in it, so I’d taken it. The coat bunched and pulled up in front, for I’d put weight on my hips, and my stomach had never gone flat again after John was born. Twined around my neck was a knitted scarf, hairy and navy blue, that Bram’s daughter Gladys had given me one Christmas. On my head a brown tarn was pulled down to keep my ears warm. My hair was gray and straight. I always cut it myself. The face— a brown and leathery face that wasn’t mine. Only the eyes were mine, staring as though to pierce the lying glass and get beneath to some truer image, infinitely distant.

Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:
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

Brampton “Bram” Shipley Character Timeline in The Stone Angel

The timeline below shows where the character Brampton “Bram” Shipley appears in The Stone Angel. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
After three years back in Manawaka, Hagar met Brampton Shipley at a local dance. Bram had a ruddy face, a thick black beard, and... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
Some time later, Hagar received a marriage proposal from Bram, and told her father of her intent to accept. Jason was infuriated and forbade Hagar... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
...and second-hand” the furnishings were. No sooner had Hagar set foot in the house than Bram commanded her to disrobe so that he could see what she looked like “under all... (full context)
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
...her other son John used to hold his breath during tantrums until either she or Bram would smack him and make him breathe in through a shout—she now forces herself to... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
...waist she maintained as a girl through the use of corsets. It was only when Bram ridiculed her corsets that she stopped wearing them and began growing heavier. (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
...headstrong young woman who has not yet married. Hagar becomes emotional at the sight of Bram’s decanter, which was always filled with wine during their years together. Hagar considers the chair... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
...her father, and of her second son, John. She has no pictures of her ex-husband, Bram. Looking over the pictures, Hagar slips back into memory, and recalls how after her marriage... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Anytime Hagar and Bram went into town and saw her old friends at the store or in the street,... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
...the mirror, she hardly recognizes her bloated, veiny face and body. She knows that if Bram were alive, he wouldn’t see her as the burdensome “Mother” Doris and Marvin believe she... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
Hagar retreats into memory, recalling her passionate but adversarial relationship with Bram. Her deep, intense attraction to him was what forged their relationship and kept it going... (full context)
Chapter 3
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
...walls remind her of the old Shipley house in Manawaka. When Hagar moved in with Bram the walls were bare, and over the years she put up only a few pictures.... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
...her manners. Hagar is reminded of how she herself used to do the same to Bram during their marriage. Hagar is horrified at the thought that Doris must feel the same... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
...had wanted to have her child at home, convinced that the birth would kill her. Bram, though, drove her into town, excited and hopeful that they’d soon have a son—“somebody to... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
...As she approaches the window, she sees a bearded man inside, and is reminded of Bram. She wonders if Bram has somehow traveled through time. When the man looks up, though,... (full context)
Chapter 4
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
...old enough, she trained them to help out around the house and do their chores. Bram, on the other hand, was often lazy, and only ever really worked hard during the... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
Hagar often found herself disgusted by Bram and his friends, and when Bram was once yelled at by a mounted police officer... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
...Hagar thought from the moment she saw him that he was more like her than Bram. John was not as big as Marvin as he grew, but nor was he delicate.... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Bram took to Marvin, but never to John—even when he tried to be kind towards John,... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Wanting some money of her own, Hagar took a tip from Bram’s daughter Jessica and began selling hen eggs to make some cash on the side. Bram... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
...he never returned to Manawaka, and wrote home only occasionally. Even after Marvin left home, Bram still didn’t pay any more attention to John, who, at seven, couldn’t help Bram with... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
...manager walked off to check on whether he could meet her request—and then Hagar heard Bram, on the other end of the store, trying to buy stale doughnuts at a discounted... (full context)
Chapter 5
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
...on the last time she fled home—years ago, when she took twelve-year-old John and left Bram. John seemed both excited and reticent to leave—he suggested sneaking off without telling Bram, but... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
...packed, Hagar and John went into the kitchen, where Hagar told a drunken and swaying Bram that they were leaving. Bram did not seem surprised, and did not ask Hagar to... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
...family. She lied and said her husband was dead, wanting to make no mention of Bram. (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
...her room. Upstairs, Hagar reflected on how though she was glad to be rid of Bram, she did miss him physically, and felt at times that she’d “return to him, just... (full context)
Chapter 6
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
...falling, she forces herself to lie still and calm herself. She finds herself wishing that Bram were here to ward off any intruders, and listens intently through the darkness for any... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
...place, to try and find some work there. John admitted that he had been writing Bram secretly for some time, and that Marvin, too, had been in communication with their father.... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
...her little of his life there. One day, though, John wrote to tell Hagar that Bram had fallen ill, and might not last very long. Hagar left Mr. Oatley’s and went... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
...felt her heart “break” at the sight of the place, but when she muttered about Bram’s laziness and failure to keep things up, John jumped to his father’s defense, citing his... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
...was drunk, and when she confronted him about it, he replied blithely that he and Bram had been making their own wine for years. (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Hagar went into the front room to see Bram, and was shocked by how small and frail he’d grown. Bram’s eyes were milky and... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
Over the days that followed, Bram experienced only fleeting moments of clarity. During one, he remarked that he “should of licked... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
...further embarrassing herself. When Lottie asked why Hagar had returned to Manawaka, Hagar replied that Bram was dying, further deepening the conversation’s awkwardness. (full context)
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
One morning after Marvin had already left, John and Hagar found Bram dead in his bed—he’d died in the night, with no one beside him. Hagar, looking... (full context)
Chapter 7
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
...Hagar cannot get herself up this time, and begins crying. She becomes enraged, “curs[ing] like Bram,” and through her anger summons the strength to at last “yank [her]self upright.” (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Hagar retreats into memory again. After Bram’s death, she recalls, she wrote to Mr. Oatley to ask him for a few more... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
...kitchen window, that John was sitting in there with his half-sister. They were talking about Bram, and it became evident from listening in that their sister Gladys felt neither of them... (full context)