The Stone Angel

by

Margaret Laurence

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Hagar Shipley Character Analysis

Hagar Shipley is the novel’s protagonist and narrator. A ninety-year-old woman whose rapid physical and mental decline often sends her reeling backwards into memories of her youth in the fictional Manitoba prairie town of Manawaka, Hagar is a heavy, flatulent, raving mess of a woman who nonetheless clings to the small remaining scraps of agency over her own choices. At the start of the book, Hagar is living with her oldest son Marvin and his wife Doris, though she resents their company, the fact that they have moved into her home, and the concerned way they talk to and handle her. Hagar begins to suspect that Marvin and Doris want to be rid of her, and when she comes across an advertisement for a nursing home left out on the kitchen table, she knows her time is limited. Hagar takes one of her social security checks and runs away, boarding a bus bound for the coast. As she hides out in the coastal forests, she declines even further, and her moments of lucidity grow farther and farther apart as she reflects on her strict father’s dominion over her and her brothers’ childhoods, the end of her marriage, years ago, to the crass, coarse farmer Brampton Shipley, and the chaotic life and tragic death of her second, favorite son John. Hagar is eventually rescued and brought to a hospital, where she lives out her final days in a haze of stubborn resistance and, eventually, conscious attempts to overcome her own stubborn personality and finally give her family the kindness they have long deserved. Hagar’s life is a rich tapestry of indecision and wrong decisions, dependence and independence, as well as love, lust, and loss. Her complicated life is the basis for several of the novel’s major themes: womanhood, choices and identity, and the twinned love and resentment that often coexist within—and can even come to define—one’s life with one’s family.

Hagar Shipley Quotes in The Stone Angel

The The Stone Angel quotes below are all either spoken by Hagar Shipley or refer to Hagar 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 1 Quotes

Above the town, on the hill brow, the stone angel used to stand. 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 his dynasty, as he fancied, forever and a day.

Summer and winter she viewed the town with sightless eyes. She was doubly blind, not only stone but unendowed with even a pretense of sight. Whoever carved her had left the eyeballs blank. It seemed strange to me that she should stand above the town, harking us all to heaven without knowing who we were at all. But I was too young then to know her purpose, although my father often told me she had been brought from Italy at a terrible expense and was pure white marble. I think now she must have been carved in that distant sun by stone masons who were the cynical descendants of Bernini, gouging out her like by the score, gauging with admirable accuracy the needs of fledgling pharaohs in an uncouth land.

Related Characters: Hagar Shipley (speaker), Jason Currie / Hagar’s Father
Related Symbols: The Stone Angel
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

“Do you know what he’s got in his dresser, Hagar?” Matt went on. “An old plaid shawl—it was hers. He used to go to sleep holding it, as a kid, I remember. I thought it had got thrown out years ago. But it’s still there.”

He turned to me then, and held both my hands in his, the only time I ever recall my brother Matt doing such a thing.

“Hagar—put it on and hold him for a while.”

I stiffened and drew away my hands. “I can’t. Oh Matt, I’m sorry, but I can’t, I can’t. I’m not a bit like her.” “He wouldn’t know,” Matt said angrily. “He’s out of his head.” But all I could think of was that meek woman I’d never seen, the woman Dan was said to resemble so much and from whom he’d inherited a frailty I could not help but detest, however much a part of me wanted to sympathize. To play at being her—it was beyond me.

“I can’t, Matt.” I was crying, shaken by torments he never even suspected, wanting above all else to do the thing he asked, but unable to do it, unable to bend enough.

Related Characters: Hagar Shipley (speaker), Matt Currie (speaker), Dan Currie
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

We saw a huge and staggering heap of eggs, jarred and broken by some wagoner and cast here, unsaleable. July was hot that day— I can feel yet its insistence upon my neck and my wringing palms. We saw, with a kind of horror that could not be avoided, however much one looked away or scurried on, that some of the eggs had been fertile and had hatched in the sun. The chicks, feeble, foodless, bloodied and mutilated, prisoned by the weight of broken shells all around them, were trying to crawl like little worms, their half-mouths opened uselessly among the garbage. I could only gawk and retch, I and the others, all except one. […]

[Lottie] looked at the chicks. I didn’t know whether she made herself look, or whether she was curious.

“We can’t leave them like this.”

“But Lottie—” that was Charlotte Tappen, who had an exceptionally weak stomach, even though her father was a doctor. “What can we do? I can’t look, or I’ll throw up.”

“Hagar—” Lottie began. “I wouldn’t touch them with a ten-foot pole,” I said. “All right,” Lottie said furiously. “Don’t, then.” She took a stick and crushed the eggshell skulls, and some of them she stepped on with the heels of her black patent-leather shoes.

It was the only thing to do, a thing I couldn’t have done. And yet it troubled me so much that I could not.

Related Characters: Hagar Shipley (speaker), Charlotte Tappen (speaker), Lottie Drieser (speaker)
Page Number: 27-28
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

“Do you—” I hesitate. “Do you ever get used to such a place?”

She laughs then, a short bitter laugh I recognize and comprehend at once. “Do you get used to life?” she says. “Can you answer me that? It all comes as a surprise. You get your first period, and you’re amazed—I can have babies now— such a thing! When the children come, you think—Is it mine? Did it come out of me? Who could believe it? When you can’t have them any more, what a shock— It’s finished—so soon?”

I peer at her, thinking how peculiar that she knows so much.

“You’re right. I never got used to a blessed thing.”

Related Characters: Hagar Shipley (speaker)
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:
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:

It’s better to know, but disappointing, too. I wonder now if I really want to fling this door wide. I do and don’t. Perhaps the thing inside will prove more terrible even than one’s imaginings.

Meantime, Doris feels it behooves her to bolster Marvin.

“It’s just as Marv says—the doctor says you’d be much better off—”

“Oh, stow it,” Marvin says, all of a sudden. “If you don’t want to go there, Mother, you don’t need to.”

“Well, I like that!” Doris is outraged. “And who’ll do the laundry, I’d like to know? You, I suppose?”

“I don’t know what in hell I’m supposed to do,” Marvin says. “I’m caught between two fires.”

Related Characters: Hagar Shipley (speaker), Marvin Shipley (speaker), Doris Shipley (speaker)
Page Number: 118
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 5 Quotes

Winter was the right time to go. A bell-voice, clear in the cold air, cried “All aboard!” and the train stirred and shook itself like a drowsy dragon and began to move, regally slow, then faster until it was spinning down the shining tracks. We passed the shacks and shanties that clustered around the station, and the railway buildings and water tower painted their dried-blood red. Then we were away from Manawaka. It came as a shock to me, how small the town was, and how short a time it took to leave it, as we measure time.

Into the white Wachakwa valley then, past the dump grounds and the cemetery on the hill. Peering, I could see on the hill brow the marble angel, sightlessly guarding the gardens of snow, the empty places and the deep-lying dead.

Related Characters: Hagar Shipley (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Stone Angel
Page Number: 142
Explanation and Analysis:

My room has been prepared for me. The mattress is mildewed, it’s true, and musty from never being aired. But it’s here and mine. From the bedroom window I can look out to the darkening trees and beyond them to the sea. Who would have thought I’d have a room with a view? Heartened, I plod back down the stairs, and then return, bearing my bag and my hat.

To move to a new place—that’s the greatest excitement. For a while you believe you carry nothing with you—all is canceled from before, or cauterized, and you begin again and nothing will go wrong this time.

Related Characters: Hagar Shipley (speaker)
Page Number: 155
Explanation and Analysis:

It was a becalmed life we led there, a period of waiting and of marking time. But the events we waited for, unknowingly, turned out to be quite other than what I imagined they might be.

And here am I, the same Hagar, in a different establishment once more, and waiting again. I try, a little, to pray, as one’s meant to do at evening, thinking perhaps the knack of it will come to me here. But it works no better than it ever did. I can’t change what’s happened to me in my life, or make what’s not occurred take place. But 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. So I merely sit on the bed and look out the window until the dark comes and the trees have gone and the sea itself has been swallowed, by the night.

Related Characters: Hagar Shipley (speaker)
Page Number: 160
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:

The marble angel lay toppled over on her face, among the peonies, and the black ants scurried through the white stone ring lets of her hair. Beside me, John laughed.

“The old lady’s taken quite a header.”

I turned to [John] in dismay. “Who could have done it?”

“How should I know?”

“We’ll have to set her up,” I said. “We can’t leave it like this.”

[…]

“Oh, all right,” he said. “I’ll do it, then.”

[…]

He sweated and grunted angrily. His feet slipped and he hit his forehead on a marble ear, and swore. His arm muscles tightened and swelled, and finally the statue moved, teetered, and was upright once more. John wiped his face with his hands.

“There. Satisfied?”

I looked, and then again in disbelief. Someone had painted the pouting marble mouth and the full cheeks with lipstick. The dirt clung around it but still the vulgar pink was plainly visible.

“Oh, Christ,” John said, as though to himself. “There’s that.”

“Who’d do such a thing?”

“She looks a damn sight better, if you ask me. Why not leave it?”

I never could bear that statue. I’d have been glad enough to leave her. Now I wish I had. But at the time it was impossible.

Related Characters: Hagar Shipley (speaker), John Shipley (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Stone Angel
Page Number: 178-179
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

[The nurse] put a well-meaning arm around me. “Cry. Let yourself. It’s the best thing.” But I shoved her arm away. I straightened my spine, and that was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my entire life, to stand straight then. I wouldn’t cry in front of strangers, whatever it cost me.

But when at last I was home, alone in Marvin’s old bedroom, and women from the town were sitting in the kitchen below and brewing coffee, I found my tears had been locked too long and wouldn’t come now at my bidding. The night my son died I was transformed to stone and never wept at all. When the ministering women handed me the cup of hot coffee, they murmured how well I was taking it, and I could only look at them dry eyed from a great distance and not say a single word. All the night long, I only had one thought—I’d had so many things to say to him, so many things to put to rights. He hadn’t waited to hear.

I guess they thought it odd, some of the Manawaka people did, that after the funeral service was over I wouldn’t go out to the cemetery. I didn’t want to see where he was put, close by his father and close by mine, under the double-named stone where the marble angel crookedly stood.

Related Characters: Hagar Shipley (speaker), Marvin Shipley, John Shipley
Related Symbols: The Stone Angel
Page Number: 242-243
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

What could I possibly tell her, I wonder, that could do her any good? She knows a lot more than I did when I married. Or maybe she doesn’t, really, but who’s to tell her? I haven’t a word to send her, my granddaughter. Instead, I tug at my right hand, pull and shake, and finally wrench off the ring.

“Send her this, Doris, will you? It was my mother’s sapphire. I’d like Tina to have it.”

Doris gasps. “Are you—are you sure you really want to, Mother?”

Something in her eyes saddens me, makes me want to turn away.

“Of course I’m sure. What use is it to me? I should’ve given it to you, I suppose, years ago. I could never bear to part with it. Stupid. Too bad you never had it. I don’t want it now. Send it to Tina.”

“Mother—” Marvin has a very loud voice sometimes. “Are you sure?”

Speechlessly I nod. Why all this fuss? In another moment I’ll take the wretched thing back, to shut them up. Doris pops it in her purse, as if she’s been thinking the same thing.

Related Characters: Hagar Shipley (speaker), Marvin Shipley (speaker), Doris Shipley (speaker)
Page Number: 279
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

“You girls are so slim these days.”

She smiles. She’s used to the inane remarks of old women.

“I’ll bet you were just as slim, when you were young, Mrs. Shipley.”

“Oh—you know my name.” Then I remember it’s on a card at the foot of my bed, and I feel a fool. “Yes, I was quite slender at your age. I had black hair, long, halfway down my back. Some people thought me quite pretty. You’d never think so to look at me now.”

“Yes, you would,” she says, standing back a little and regarding me. “I wouldn’t say you’d been exactly pretty— handsome is what I’d say. You’ve got such strong features. Good bones don’t change. You’re still handsome.”

[…]

“That’s kind of you. You’re a nice girl. You’re lucky, to be young.” I wish I hadn’t added that. I never used to say whatever popped into my head. How slipshod I’m growing.

“I guess so.” She smiles, but differently, aloofly. “Maybe you’re the lucky one.”

“How so, for mercy’s sake?”

“Oh well—” she says evasively, “you’ve had those years. Nothing can take them away.”

“That’s a mixed blessing, surely,” I say dryly, but of course she doesn’t see what I mean.

Related Characters: Hagar Shipley (speaker)
Page Number: 283-284
Explanation and Analysis:

Doris returns. She fusses over me, fixes my pillows, rearranges my flowers, does my hair. How I wish she wouldn’t fuss so. She jangles my nerves with her incessant fussing. Mr. Troy has left and is waiting outside in the hall.

“Did you have a nice chat?” she says wistfully. If only she’d stop prodding at me about it. “We didn’t have a single solitary thing to say to one another,” I reply. She bites her lip and looks away. I’m ashamed.

But I won’t take back the words. What business is it of hers, anyway?

Oh, I am unchangeable, unregenerate. I go on speaking in the same way, always, and the same touchiness rises within me at the slightest thing.

“Doris—I didn’t speak the truth. He sang for me, and it did me good.”

Related Characters: Hagar Shipley (speaker), Doris Shipley, Mr. Troy
Related Symbols: The Stone Angel
Page Number: 293
Explanation and Analysis:

“Don’t you remember how you used to give me pennies to buy jaw-breakers, when I was a kid? Mom used to be livid, thinking of the dentist’s bills.”

I’d forgotten. I have to smile, even as my mouth is filled once more with bile. That’s what I am to him— a grandmother who gave him money for candy. What does he know of me? Not a blessed thing. I’m choked with it now, the incommunicable years, everything that happened and was spoken or not spoken. I want to tell him. Someone should know. This is what I think. Some one really ought to know these things.

But where would I begin, and what does it matter to him, anyway? It might be worse. At least he recalls a pleasant thing.

Related Characters: Hagar Shipley (speaker), Steven Shipley (speaker)
Page Number: 296
Explanation and Analysis:

“If I’ve been crabby with you, sometimes, these past years,” he says in a low voice, “I didn’t mean it.” I stare at him. Then, quite unexpectedly, he reaches for my hand and holds it tightly. Now it seems to me he is truly Jacob, gripping with all his strength, and bargaining. I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And I see I am thus strangely cast, and perhaps have been so from the beginning, and can only release myself by releasing him. It’s in my mind to ask his pardon, but that’s not what he wants from me.

“You’ve not been cranky, Marvin. You’ve been good to me, always. A better son than John.”

The dead don’t bear a grudge nor seek a blessing. The dead don’t rest uneasy. Only the living. Marvin, looking at me from anxious elderly eyes, believes me. It doesn’t occur to him that a person in my place would ever lie.

Related Characters: Hagar Shipley (speaker), Marvin Shipley (speaker), John Shipley
Related Symbols: The Stone Angel
Page Number: 304
Explanation and Analysis:

As he goes out, I hear the nurse speaking to him in the corridor. “She’s got an amazing constitution, your mother. One of those hearts that just keeps on working, whatever else is gone.”

A pause, and then Marvin replies. “She’s a holy terror,” he says.

Listening, I feel like it is more than I could now reasonably have expected out of life, for he has spoken with such anger and such tenderness.

Related Characters: Hagar Shipley (speaker), Marvin Shipley (speaker)
Page Number: 304-305
Explanation and Analysis:

“You took your time in coming, I must say. Hurry up, now—” I must get back, back to my sleek cocoon, where I’m almost comfortable, lulled by potions. I can collect my thoughts there. That’s what I need to do, collect my thoughts.

“You’re so slow—”

“Sorry. That better?”

“Yes. No. I’m—thirsty. Can’t you even—”

“Here. Here you are. Can you?”

“Of course. What do you think I am? What do you take me for? Here, give it to me. Oh, for mercy’s sake let me hold it myself!”

I only defeat myself by not accepting her. I know this—I know it very well. But I can’t help it—it’s my nature. I’ll drink from this glass, or spill it, just as I choose. I’ll not countenance anyone else’s holding it for me. And yet—if she were in my place, I’d think her daft, and push her hands away, certain I could hold it for her better.

I wrest from her the glass, full of water to be had for the taking. I hold it in my own hands. There. There.

And then—

Related Characters: Hagar Shipley (speaker)
Page Number: 308
Explanation and Analysis:
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Hagar Shipley Character Timeline in The Stone Angel

The timeline below shows where the character Hagar Shipley appears in The Stone Angel. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
Hagar Shipley describes a stone angel that marked—and may still mark—her dead mother’s grave. Hagar’s mother... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Hagar, now ninety years old and “rampant with memory,” is sure that she herself is as... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Hagar looks back on her childhood: raised in Manawaka, Manitoba, she was a spirited young girl... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Hagar’s best friend in school as a girl was Charlotte Tapper, and the other children in... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
...all his talk of being a self-made man and “pulling himself up by his bootstraps,” Hagar’s father Jason Currie came from a good family. His father had been a silk importer... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
Hagar’s older brothers, Matt and Dan, often helped out at her father’s store, though he never... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
As young teens, Hagar and her brothers often ice-skated in winter on a frozen river nearby. One year, on... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
Matt informed Hagar that Dan was calling out for their mother, who died when he was four, and... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
Hagar recalls one more striking, dark incident from her youth—when she was nearly grown, she and... (full context)
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
A “timid tapping” at Hagar’s bedroom door snaps her from her reverie, and her daughter-in-law Doris—a plain, frumpy woman who... (full context)
Womanhood Theme Icon
As she stands up from her chair, Hagar feels an aching stiffness spread through her body, and as she walks toward the door,... (full context)
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Marvin comes upstairs and helps Hagar up. Her sixty-five-year-old son is generally calm and unshaken, but as he hoists Hagar to... (full context)
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
The three of them live together in a fairly large four-bedroom house Hagar bought for herself years earlier. Doris and Marvin have two grown children, Steven and Tina,... (full context)
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Hagar apologizes for being a burden, but Marvin and Doris quickly try to placate her and... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
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Hagar feels that her age seems “arbitrary and impossible.” Whenever she looks in the mirror, “beyond... (full context)
Chapter 2
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
The following week, Mr. Troy calls on Hagar—but he has picked a bad day to visit. Hagar is feeling unwell. The pain behind... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
When it was time for Hagar to go to college, she knew that her brother Matt should be the one to... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
Two years later, Hagar returned from school knowing French, embroidery, menu-planning, poetry, hairdressing, and other womanly skills—“hardly ideal accomplishments... (full context)
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... (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.... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
Hagar moved into the Shipley house right away, and was immediately disheartened by how dirty it... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Back in the present, Mr. Troy marvels at the story Hagar has been telling. He asks if she has any friends nowadays—“contemporaries […] to talk with,... (full context)
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Sure enough, walking back into the kitchen from the garden, Hagar finds a newspaper ad for a nursing home called Silverthreads laid out on the kitchen... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
Doris replies that at least Hagar looked nice for the visit, pointing out her flowered dress. Looking down at her own... (full context)
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Doris shakes Hagar from her reverie. Hagar, momentarily confused, desperately pleads with Doris not to sell the house... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Choices and Identity Theme Icon
Womanhood Theme Icon
Hagar goes to sit in the living room and looks around at all of her things.... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
...healthy children, and received “a few decent cards” in the hand fate dealt her. Meanwhile, Hagar was disappointed to learn that even after the death of his second son, her father... (full context)
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Hagar continues looking around the living room and thinking about what she’ll bequeath to her granddaughter... (full context)
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Choices and Identity Theme Icon
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Doris comes into the room to tell Hagar it’s almost time for dinner, and Hagar begins asking which of her own possessions Doris’s... (full context)
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
Marvin comes into the living room and Hagar asks him to fetch her cigarettes for her. Doris appears and says she’ll go, as... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Hagar sits in a large armchair in her room, relieved to be away from Doris and... (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... (full context)
Family, Love, and Resentment Theme Icon
...him, and she urges Marvin to do what he “promised.” Marvin, visibly uncomfortable, explains to Hagar that he and Doris, in declining health themselves, can no longer look after Hagar. Between... (full context)
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
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Marvin and Doris continue begging Hagar to see reason, but Hagar insists that “if it were John,” he wouldn’t “consign his... (full context)
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Hagar cannot sleep, and when she gets up to relieve a cramp in her foot, she... (full context)
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Hagar retreats into memory, recalling her passionate but adversarial relationship with Bram. Her deep, intense attraction... (full context)
Chapter 3
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As Hagar sits with Doris in the waiting room at Doctor Corby’s office, its bare walls remind... (full context)
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As Hagar, in the doctor’s office, remarks aloud on how few paintings there are—and how a man... (full context)
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...night, after supper, Doris suggests they all go for a drive. Marvin and Doris tuck Hagar carefully into the back seat, bundle her up with pillows, and set off. Hagar is... (full context)
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Inside, the matron of the home shows Marvin, Doris, and Hagar around. She offers lovely descriptions of the activities and amenities provided to residents, but Hagar... (full context)
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Now, on the verandah, an elderly woman in a pink cotton robe sidles up beside Hagar and begins speaking to her as if they’re old friends. Another woman soon comes up... (full context)
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...as well as aging more generally. Mrs. Steiner remarks how quickly life goes by, and Hagar is surprised by the woman’s wisdom. Hagar bids the woman goodbye hurriedly, though, and stands... (full context)
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Doris comes running across the lawn towards Hagar, shouting about what a “scare” Hagar’s given her and Marvin. She points out that Hagar... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Hagar and Doris make a series of trips to the local hospital so that Hagar can... (full context)
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As Hagar waits for the X-ray to start, she’s reminded of other times in her life when... (full context)
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Hagar often found herself disgusted by Bram and his friends, and when Bram was once yelled... (full context)
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...tell her only that the doctor has recommended “professional care”—in other words, the nursing home. Hagar demands to know what Doris and Marvin are keeping from her, but Marvin says Hagar’s... (full context)
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...once again, knowing their family is in need of advice. He comes to talk with Hagar in the garden, and urges her to “accept the things which [she] can’t change.” Hagar... (full context)
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Hagar looks back on her memories of her son John. Bringing him into the world was... (full context)
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...when he tried to be kind towards John, there was an “edge to it.” Once, Hagar watched as Bram offered John a comb of fresh-cut honey, balanced on the edge of... (full context)
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Wanting some money of her own, Hagar took a tip from Bram’s daughter Jessica and began selling hen eggs to make some... (full context)
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...walk across a trestle bridge where the trains came through, a mile from town—one time Hagar caught them, and yelled at John, embarrassing him in front of his friends. Even though... (full context)
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...Bram with the kind of tough chores that Marvin could. One evening, John confided in Hagar that the kids at his school called Bram “Bramble Shitley.” John laughed at the joke,... (full context)
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One Saturday, John and Hagar went to town so that she could deliver eggs. When Hagar knocked on the door... (full context)
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Hagar, embarrassed, quickly ducked away from John and into a public restroom. In the empty facility,... (full context)
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After exiting the restroom, Hagar paid her first visit in many years to her father’s old general store in hopes... (full context)
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Hagar returned home and gathered up her most valuable things—heirloom earrings, sterling silver candleholders, and fine... (full context)
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Doris shakes Hagar from her memories. Hagar is confused as to what time it is, and asks if... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Doris helps Hagar get into bed, but Hagar knows she will “not sleep a wink tonight.” She resolves... (full context)
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Considering fleeing Marvin and Doris, Hagar looks back on the last time she fled home—years ago, when she took twelve-year-old John... (full context)
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Once packed, Hagar and John went into the kitchen, where Hagar told a drunken and swaying Bram that... (full context)
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As the train pulled out of Manawaka in the morning, Hagar was “shock[ed]” by how small Manawaka was, “and how short a time it took to... (full context)
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Now, back in the present, Hagar wakes up, recalling her plan, and stands up to dress herself. She moves slowly, though—the... (full context)
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As soon as Doris is gone, Hagar makes her way to the bank. As she stands in line, she is achy and... (full context)
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With some help and directions from the bus driver, Hagar arrives downtown at the depot where she can purchase a ticket on another bus to... (full context)
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At a small gas station store just next to the bus stop, Hagar stops in and buys herself some snacks—biscuits, jam, chocolate, and cheese. After paying, Hagar starts... (full context)
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After the driver drops Hagar off, she takes in the sights and sounds of the nature all around her, and... (full context)
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Hagar comes upon some old abandoned buildings and decides to take shelter inside one of them,... (full context)
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Hagar looks back on the past, remembering how she and John came to live at a... (full context)
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John and Hagar had their own separate rooms upstairs, and Hagar used her early paychecks to purchase new... (full context)
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John and Hagar lived in “reasonable content[ment,]” and came to learn that Mr. Oatley had made his fortune... (full context)
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...by the house in their cars and honk for him to come out, and though Hagar suspected his friends drank, John assured her that they were “swell guys.” John grew tall... (full context)
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 Now, as Hagar falls asleep in her new little room in the abandoned building at Shadow Point, she... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Hagar wakes in the darkness, feeling groggy. Rain is slanting into the room through one of... (full context)
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Hagar becomes irate and confused, berating herself for leaving home but also believing for several moments... (full context)
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Hagar recalls more of her time at Mr. Oatley’s. When John was old enough to go... (full context)
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Eventually, Hagar and John committed themselves to working hard and saving money in pursuit of their common... (full context)
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John returned to Manawaka and wrote to Hagar only infrequently over the next two years, telling her little of his life there. One... (full context)
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John picked Hagar up from the station and drove her back to the Shipley farm, which had fallen... (full context)
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Inside the house, Hagar encountered a horrible, rancid smell—the kitchen was “a shambles,” and rotting food sat out all... (full context)
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Hagar went into the front room to see Bram, and was shocked by how small and... (full context)
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...one, he remarked that he “should of licked the living daylights” out of his wife Hagar, failing to recognize her even as she stood right in front of him. Bram could... (full context)
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Hagar went into town with John to deliver eggs, and there they encountered a pretty but... (full context)
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Another day in town, Hagar ran into Lottie on the street. Lottie said she was happy that Hagar had done... (full context)
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...went out every night after dinner, and returned in his car-buggy only after daybreak. When Hagar called attention to John’s secretive behavior and asked what else she didn’t know about him,... (full context)
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One afternoon, Hagar asked John to drive her out to the cemetery so that she could see whether... (full context)
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When the horrified Hagar asked who would do such a thing, John responded that the angel “look[ed] a damn... (full context)
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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.... (full context)
Chapter 7
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In the morning, Hagar wakes up feeling stiff and sore. She feels “tempted” for a moment to head back... (full context)
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Hagar spots an old rusty bucket which has collected some rainwater, and she brings some water... (full context)
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Hagar sits on the beach and eats some of her snacks, but quickly feels a horrible... (full context)
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Hagar walks a little before deciding to rest on a fallen tree trunk and enjoy nature.... (full context)
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Hagar retreats into memory again. After Bram’s death, she recalls, she wrote to Mr. Oatley to... (full context)
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At Jess’s house, Hagar was surprised to find, as she passed the kitchen window, that John was sitting in... (full context)
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Unable to take anymore, Hagar knocked at the kitchen door, interrupting John and Jess’s emotional conversation. She gave Jess the... (full context)
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One night, to Hagar’s surprise, Arlene brought John home in her father’s car. John was drunk and nearly passed... (full context)
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...attended a dance in 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... (full context)
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Hagar soon returned to the coast to work, but came back to Manawaka the following summer... (full context)
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Hagar warned Arlene not to marry John, citing his poverty and heavy drinking. Arlene retorted that... (full context)
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After dinner that night, John took Arlene home while Hagar sat up waiting for him to return, looking around the house and reminiscing about her... (full context)
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...day, while napping on the couch in the front room covered with a heavy blanket, Hagar awoke to the sound of whispers and footsteps. John and Arlene had come home, and... (full context)
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The next day, Hagar called upon Lottie to discuss the relationship between their children. Lottie seemed to be fairly... (full context)
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...the next month, Arlene came by the Shipley place every day, and her presence agitated Hagar. As a result, John and Arlene began conducting their affair somewhere else—Hagar suspects now that... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Inside the greasy and dilapidated cannery, Hagar makes a bed out of some discarded old fishnets and eats some of her provisions... (full context)
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A seagull flaps about the room, and its presence “scares and disgusts” Hagar. She flings a small wooden fish box at it, hoping to scare it away, but... (full context)
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As night descends, Hagar hears some dogs barking in the distance. As they get closer and closer, Hagar grows... (full context)
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The figure inside the cannery lights a match—it is a man. Hagar, believing the man to be a vagrant, offers him her purse, but he is just... (full context)
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The man begs Hagar to calm down, and insists he doesn’t know her and hasn’t been sent to fetch... (full context)
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Murray shares his cigarettes and wine with Hagar, and she is grateful to have something to drink. Hagar thanks Murray for his kindness,... (full context)
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Murray also tells Hagar about his wife and son, and their participation in increasingly strange religious sects which foretold... (full context)
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 Murray and Hagar commiserate over the fact that they have both lost children, and then after sharing some... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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Hagar broke down, begging John to see that all she’d ever wanted was his happiness, and... (full context)
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Every night for several nights, John took the truck into town. One night, Hagar decided not to wait up for him, but found that when she went to bed... (full context)
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At the hospital, Hagar sat with John, whose scant superficial injuries were nothing compared to the internal ones he’d... (full context)
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As one of the nurses walked Hagar out, she urged Hagar to let herself cry—but Hagar shoved the nurse away, determined not... (full context)
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Hagar visited Lottie and Telford, but the visit was short, awkward, and painful for all of... (full context)
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Hagar snaps back to reality, realizing that she is, at last, crying. Murray comments upon how... (full context)
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Hagar wakes up in the middle of the night feeling cold, ill, and nauseous. Her heart... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Hagar wakes up in the morning, feeling just as ill as she did the night before.... (full context)
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Marvin is relieved that they have found Hagar.  Doris, though, is furious with the woman for throwing them into an “awful scare,” and... (full context)
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Marvin urges Doris to shut up—they need to take care of Hagar, who is clearly suffering from exposure. Marvin asks Hagar if she can understand him, but... (full context)
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Murray offers to help Doris and Marvin take Hagar out of the cannery, but they tell him he can leave. Hagar allows Marvin to... (full context)
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Hours later, Hagar’s “world has shrunk.” She is on a public ward in a hospital, in a room... (full context)
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In the morning, a nurse rouses Hagar from sleep to take her temperature. As the kindly nurse ministers to Hagar, the old... (full context)
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The scrawny, small woman in the next bed engages Hagar in conversation, asking how she slept. Hagar replies that she couldn’t sleep “with all the... (full context)
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Hagar still can’t believe that her neighbor is telling the truth, and asks who was singing... (full context)
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Hagar says she wishes Marvin had gotten her a semi-private room. Her neighbor reveals that she... (full context)
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Hagar naps, and wakes to find Marvin sitting beside her. Hagar is pleased to see him,... (full context)
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Hagar asks where Doris is, and Marvin explains that she’s had a “spell” and isn’t feeling... (full context)
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Hagar overhears a sweet visit between Mrs. Jardine and her husband Tom, and is surprised by... (full context)
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...out of bed so that she herself can walk to the bathroom. The nurse asks Hagar if she needs a pan, and Hagar replies that when she feels the urge to... (full context)
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As soon as the lights are out, the ward becomes a noisy place. Hagar goads a nurse into giving her more pain medicine to help her sleep. When Hagar... (full context)
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The next day, Hagar receives visits from Doctor Corby, Doris, and Marvin. Doris brings her flowers to cheer her... (full context)
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Marvin tells Hagar that he’s arranged for her to move to a semi-private room. Rather than feeling relieved,... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Hagar wakes up in her new room, feeling that the world has grown even smaller. Aloud,... (full context)
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Another nurse comes in, and Hagar remarks on how slim the young woman is. The nurse says that Hagar was probably... (full context)
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Hagar sleeps through most of the night, astounded by the quiet. As she wakes in the... (full context)
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When Hagar wakes up in the morning, there is a teenaged girl in the other bed. Seeing... (full context)
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Hagar wakes from a nap to find Doris and Mr. Troy at her bedside. Doris leaves... (full context)
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Steven lights a cigarette for Hagar, and she remarks how very much he looks like his grandfather. Steven says his mother... (full context)
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After a few more pleasantries, Steven gives Hagar a quick kiss and bids her goodbye. Soon, Hagar is overcome with pain and nausea,... (full context)
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In the middle of the night, Hagar is awoken by the sound of Sandra crying. Hagar calls out and asks Sandra to... (full context)
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One afternoon, in the midst of a terrible pain, Hagar receives a visitor—Marvin. At the sight of her son, she tells him how frightened she... (full context)
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In the hall, Hagar overhears Marvin speaking to one of the nurses. When the nurse remarks that Hagar has... (full context)
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Hagar recalls the last time she ever went to Manawaka. She visited alongside Marvin and Doris,... (full context)
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...them drove out to the cemetery, and though Doris stayed in the car, Marvin and Hagar walked out to the family plot. The stone angel still stood, but had been “altered”... (full context)
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At the sight of Marvin and Hagar, a young caretaker came up and spoke to them. Taking them for tourists, he began... (full context)
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Hagar is awash in a sea of pain and discomfort when Sandra approaches her to tell... (full context)
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Hagar is overcome by pain as her thoughts drift and meld together. She imagines herself as... (full context)