A Bird In The House Vs The

A Bird In The House Vs. The Stone Angle Essay, Research Paper

The comment that has been purposed is that an author has really only a single

theme and that all works are elaboration?s on earlier themes produced by the writer. Now

this can be made apparent if the works of the late William Shakesphere, or more presently

John Griffin, Steven King, or locally Allison Monroe are looked at. All of which have

written numerous pieces on single themes. Margaret Laurence is yet another author that

conforms to this criteria. She has written a number of books based on the fictitious town

of Manakawa and the parallels between the works is very evident. In The Stone Angel and

?A Bird In The House?, both written by Laurence, the similarities are obvious with

Vanessa resembling a younger version of Haggar, along with similar comments and

situations occurring in both stories, and Grandmother MacLeod and Haggar being the

same character.

The main characters in the two stories personalities resemble one other. This is

obvious when both revealed their desire to express their feelings but held them back

because they felt it would not be appropriate. This is seen in The Stone Angle when

Haggar is talking with Marvin just before he leaves for the war. She reveals to the reader

that she wished she had ?beg him to look after himself, to be careful, … to hold him tightly,

plead with him, against all reason and reality, not to go. But I (Haggar) did not want to

embarrass both of us, nor have him think I?d taken leave of my senses.? (129 The Stone

…). Vanessa reveals the same feelings of concern when she is walking to church with her

father and explains that she ?would of liked to take my father?s hand, as I used to do? (100

A Bird…). She did not take his hand because she had thought he would think it was a

?babyish gesture? (101 A Bird…). Both characters inhibition to show their true feelings is

brought out in the last two quotes and on numerous other occasions in the stories. Another

similarity that the two characters have is their feelings towards religion. Haggar as a child

did go to church but quit going after an incident in church with Bram. In her later years

she questions religion, this is seen during one of Mr.Troy?s visits to her house, when he

asked her if she has tried praying to god for help, she replied that she had ?never had much

use for prayer, Mr. Troy. Nothing I prayed for ever came to anything? (119 The Stone …).

She goes on to suggest that if god were a ?crossword puzzle, or a secret code, it?s hardly

worth the bother, it seems? (119 The Stone …). This makes it plainly clear that Haggar

does not see any use for religion however in the end, she does turn around somewhat when

she asks Mr. Troy to sing a hymn to her, which causes her to realize what it is that she has

always wanted in life, the ability to rejoice. In ?A Bird In The House? Vanessa goes

through the same experiences with religion. She questions it first in church, when she

concludes that ?If God did not think that she (Grandmother Connor) was good enough just

as she was, than I did not have much use for His opinion? (100 A Bird …). She questions

religion again on the walk home with her father when she asked him what he thought about

heaven and hell. After his attempted explanation her response was that ?Nothing seemed

to have been made any clearer? (101 A Bird …). Nearing the end of the story, after an

argument with Noreen, about her fathers death, she had a momentary ?senesce of calm,

almost of acceptance? (105 A Bird …), and she realized that Rest beyond the river ?meant

nothing. It meant only silence, forever.? (105 A Bird …). This acceptance that she felt

was toward her fathers death but because she refers to the hymn, it must also illustrates her

acceptance of religion. The similarities that are prevalent between the two characters are

their inability to express feelings towards others, and the ability to accept religion after a

period of renouncing it.

Besides the characters, these stories have a lot in common such as the plot. Both

stories are about a person?s family and the death of loved ones within it. In ?A Bird In

The House? the reader is informed of an uncles death that affected the family immensely

and in the end it is the father that dies and leaves his family to morn him. Because The

Stone Angle is a novel, and not a short story like the other, this makes it capable to

elaborate more on the effects of a member of a family dying. By the end of The Stone

Angle, death is everywhere, it is first seen when the reader is informed that Haggar?s

mother died during her birth, and the continues in to her brother Daniel, father Jason,

husband Bram, son John, and finally in the end the death of Haggar herself. There is also

the common foreshadowing of death that takes place in the stories. The Stone Angle and

?A Bird In The House? both use the symbol of a bird in a house, being a warning that a

death was going to occur within the near future. Another similarity in the two stories is the

use of hymns and songs which are used throughout the stories. These similarities in the

plots can also not be assumed to be coincidence, because they simply happen on to large of

a scale to make this assumption, so the conclusion must be made that it was done on


Haggar can also be compared to Grandmother MacLeod. In fact they are the exact

same character. On numerous occasions they both experience the exact same situation and

react completely alike. To begin with they are both elderly woman living with a son. In

Grandmother MacLeod?s first appearance, Vanessa describes her voice to be ?like frost on

a windowpane, infinitely cold and clearly etched? (89 A Bird …), this immediately causes

the reader to experience an eerie feeling towards her, causing an immediate disliking for

her. Haggar also has this quality about her, and it is seen in her first encounter with Doris.

Doris had simply came up to Haggar?s room to see if she would like to come down for tea,

and Haggar could not help but put up some sort of resistance towards Doris? kindness.

She does this by complaining that ?Of course, I suppose it would cost to much to make a

second pot? (30 The Stone …). Both Haggar and Grandmother MacLeod had two sons,

the one they lived with and another that was deceased. In both cases the mothers favored

the deceased son over the one that they live with. They both also had a love for pictures

and decorated their room with photos of their late sons. In both stories we see the two

ladies have to deal with a death in the family, in ?A Bird In The House? Vanessa informs

the reader that her grandmother was ?never seen crying, not even on the day of my father?s

funeral? (104 A Bird …), however she did appear unsteady and when Vanessa reached out

to comfort her she simply asked Vanessa to help her to her room where she was left,

?sitting in the straight chair beside her bed and looking at the picture of my father that had

been taken when he graduated from medical college? (104 A Bird …). This refusal to

show emotion in public is identical to the way in which Haggar handled her emotions. This

is seen after Bram?s funeral when Haggar talks of going home and that evening ?it was

John who cried, not I? (184 The Stone …). Both Haggar and Grandmother MacLeod are

also infatuated with appearance Grandmother MacLeod with her sealskin coat with black

fur and Haggar?s silk flowered dresses. There is simply to many similarities between these

two woman not to conclude that they are in fact the same person.

The statement presented in the beginning of this essay was that an author only had

one theme and all the work done by the author is simply a different approach to the same

theme. By looking at Laurence?s ?A Bird In The House? and The Stone Angle, it can be

agreed that this is a true statement on her writing, with the similarities in the main

characters, the plot, and the identical character in both works. However, it has also been

said that everyone has a good book in side or them. With this in mind, it is the very

talented author, like Laurence, that take this one story and recreate it into varies different

stories, all uniquely great, but wonderfully the same.


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