Flower Imagery in "The Stone Angel"

Essay by blue_devil April 2006

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Margaret Laurence uses flower imagery in her novel "The Stone Angel" to represent Hagar's way of life. There are two types of flowers, wild and civilized. These two types of flowers are associated with the educated, controlled way of life and the material way of life.

In summer the cemetery was rich and thick as syrup with the funeral-parlor perfume of the planted peonies, dark crimson and wallpaper pink, the pompous blossoms hanging leadenly, too heavy for their light stems, bowed down with the weight of themselves and the weight of the rain, infested with upstart ants that sauntered through the plush petals as though to the manner born . . . But sometimes through to hot rush of disrespectful wind that shook the scrub oak and the coarse couchgrass encroaching upon the dutifully cared for habitations of the dead, the scent of the cowslips woud rise monentarily.

They were though-rooted, these wild and gaudy flowers, and altough they were held back at the cemetery's edge, torn out by loving relatives determined to keep the plots clear and clealy civilized, for a second or two a person walking there could catch the faint, muskey, dust-tinged smell of things that grew and had grown always, before the portly peonies and the angels with rigid wings, when the prarie bluffs were walked though only by Cree with enigmatic faces and greasy hair. (p. 4-5)

Hagar was the lucky one in her family. She was able to go to college where she learned how to be more cultivated and civilized and how to act like a lady. Nothing seems to be natural about her, she criticizes everything that seems to be wild or out of control. When Hagar marries Bram Shipley, she is content and in love.

It was spring...