Where my Soul Is Stuck Between the Pages

Words, to me, are just words. I often lack the interest or the insight to see the vibrant colors disguised in the ink. But sometimes, the curves and edges of the letters reveal glimpses of the author’s soul. Sometimes, just sometimes, I can see my own.  



In July, I began reading The Stone Angel. By the second paragraph I was hooked. First, I was captivated by the sarcastic wit oozing from the narration, then by the rich imagery, and finally by the enigmatic complexities of the narrator herself, Hagar Shipley.


I liked Hagar immediately. In her old age, her inner fire blazed just as bright, if not brighter, than in her youth. I loved how she desired freedom and independence, scorning those who may snatch it from her. Along with her, I reveled in her memories, her victories over social and familial expectations. I identified with and respected this spirited woman; her victories were mine too.


But something changed. As I progressed through the pages, my perception of Hagar began to alter. Her stubbornness and temper became flaws, not strengths, as I watched them tear apart her brothers, father, husband, sons. They became casualties to her pride’s lethality. Hagar herself had not changed from the beginning of the novel; her quips and and stony disposition were ever present. Initially entertaining and inviting, these soon became unforgivable as they eroded her life, and no one was to blame but Hagar herself. She had metamorphosed from an admirable individual to an acidic fool.


Hagar is a stone angel. Like the marble monument of death described in the novel, she is doubly blind. “Unendowed with even the pretense of sight”, the carved angel watches over Hagar’s childhood town with empty eyes. Hagar is similarly blind in that she sees neither herself nor others with insight. This deficiency cripples all her attempts at human connection. Towards the end of her life, however, she finally grasps the folly with which she has lived. And with this realization, my perspective changed yet again.


A quote: “Pride was my wilderness and the demon that lead me there was fear. I was alone, never anything else, and never free, for I carried my chains with me, and they spread out from me and shackled all I touched.” (Laurence 292)


These words pierced me. Until this moment, I had regarded the rigidly prideful Hagar Shipley as an unreasonable figure, solely responsible for the destruction of her own happiness. Suddenly, I realized the hypocrisy of my judgement. I realized that I too am a stone angel.


I am as blind as she. Unrelentingly proud, afraid of vulnerability, and irascible, I lash out time and time again. I may have beautiful wings, this luxurious pretense of freedom, but these wings are useless as long as my heart is made of stone. I may have glistening eyes, but sight evades me so long as I bear the cataracts of relentless pride. I know how, in the moment, thrusting away a perceived threat to your ego feels like a victory. But it’s not. Carrying excessive pride is a burden, toting the weight of leaden chains while trying to swim.


Common sense and experience shout, Let them go! Drop the chains! But I only seem to grasp them tighter, kick my legs harder. I love the stolid strength a stony exterior affords me and I am afraid of what I would be without my pride. How long until it drowns me?


I hate correction. I hate how incompetent it makes me feel, how weak. But I realize more and more that the real strength is not in intimidation and refusal. It is in being able to take the sting of correction and grow from it. Excessive pride can make you vulnerable, fragile, explosive. Yes, some part of me knew this already. But in my constant struggle for perceived power, I missed something that Laurence’s words, “…they spread out from me and shackled all I touched”,  revealed to me. If my pride destroys me, that is one thing. I always considered this to be a minor threat. However, when the vitriol of my pride burns those I love, it can destroy them too. No one wins. No one at all.


But there is hope. Unlike Hagar, I am young. I can drop my chains before they pull me under; I can let my pride and anger sink to the bottom of the sea where they belong. Of course I’ve always known this would eventually become a necessity, but watching Hagar’s wasted life unfold as a series of pride-driven mistakes showed me that I must let go now. The longer I bear pride’s burden, the more entangled in its chains I become. They drag me down as if I were carved from stone. I must snap off my useless wings. I must let go of my chains. One feather, one finger at a time.

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6 thoughts on “Where my Soul Is Stuck Between the Pages

  1. Dearest Lauryn,
    Your blog was absoloutley magnificent! I am frequently left in awe after a brief conversation with you; however, being able to experience your mastery with words in text has me floored! I was nodding and smiling at the screen the entire time I was reading your blog as it was dripping in honesty and wisdom and I can truthfully say that through your blog I was able to learn a lesson on the relinquishing of pride. The line that most resonated with me was when you referred to your pride destroying you as a minor threat. I can really relate to the mindset and love how you followed that up with the outcome of your pride destroying others. I would never have pegged you to be a prideful person and it was very interesting getting a glimpse into this side of you.

    If I could change anything to this blog, which I am not quite sure that I could, it would be perhaps the addition of complex sentences and/or a more diverse selection of sentences for a more stylistic appeal.

    To sort of provide an argument against my edit, was there an intention behind your sentence variety and structure? Or did that occur more organically?

    Great work yet again, thank you for such a wonderful piece!


    1. Dear Ibukun,
      I’d like to thank you for making me feel so welcome in the AP family. That conversation with you may have been the reason I felt free to speak at all during the Socratic. Also, I’m so happy that my blog resonated with you!

      Thanks, as well, for the suggestion. I’d say that my style of writing has become sort of terse, especially when writing about complex subjects. If I allowed myself, my sentences would be miles long! Regarding stylistic choices, I intended to create a sort of rhythm in the writing with abrupt sentences at the start of each new idea, which would melt away throughout that paragraph before reaching another short line. I’ll definitely take the suggestion, though; I agree that sentence variety can give life to writing.

      Thanks again,

  2. My lovely Lauryn,

    I’ve known you for a long time. I remember playing with you on the playground back in elementary school. Was it you who dressed up as Tinkerbell that one year? You know when we got to come to school as one of our favorite storybook characters? Anyway, I’ve been thinking this was you for the past ten years, so if it turns out that it wasn’t actually you, then that’s really awkward. Anyway, I’m digressing here. What I mean to say is that, even as children, I’ve always admired you. I still remember this killer short story you wrote in the sixth grade. It was brilliant–just like this blog piece.

    Your diction–holy cow! You write with such sophistication and poignancy. Every choice you made seemed to be very precise and deliberate. Each word had me wrapped around its little finger. I want to acknowledge one line in particular: “They became casualties to her pride’s lethality” LOVE this, Lauryn. After I finish writing this comment I’m gonna have to go and write this down in my journal–it’s a great breadcrumb.I Also admired the way you were able to write with a sense of formality as well as with a sort of poeticism. This piece was written with a clever balance, if that makes sense.

    Great, insightful connections to the novel. It resonated with me even though I haven’t read The Stone Angel. Especially appreciate your arguments regarding pride and how, as an extremity, it can be fatal–it can cloud our judgments because it can prevent us from recognizing our potential wrongdoings. And if we are unable to recognize these wrongdoings, we risk repeating them. This not only does us a disservice but it can potentially do the people around us a disservice because they may be affected by our actions. Something Hunni always tells us is to be confident, not cocky. It is okay to hold ourselves in a dignified manner and to act with a sense of pirde, but there is a fine line between pride and vanity. When we cross this line–when we choose vanity–that is when we are in trouble. That is when we transition from being confident in ourselves to being just outright cocky–when we begin to act with a sense of superiority and forget our humility. In this blog post, you refer to yourself as a stone angel, blind and plagued by “unrelentingly” pride. I just wanted to say that I personally think you are one of the most humble people I know, despite what you may believe. Just felt the need to say that. You are confident–but never cocky. I see you as a balanced individual which I appreciate.

    In terms of improvements, I am really struggling to come up with suggestions! Ahhh, so forgive me for being nitpicky here. There seemed to be a few phrases that sounded somewhat cliche, phrases that we are all guilty of using on a regular basis. EG: i.e “I was hooked” or the idea of something sinking “to the bottom of the sea.” Other than that, I really don’t have anything else to offer in terms ofto- work-ons.

    Also, you finished this piece off with a bang! “I must let go of my chains. One feather, one finger at a time.” Brilliantly articulated! Bravo! Thank you for sharing this piece.

    Never stop writing,

    1. Jade, you jewel,

      I’m finally sat down. I have my tea. So ready to smash that keyboard. To start off, I’m 99.9% sure I was Tinkerbell, but elementary is such a blur. I wonder sometimes if I even HAD a childhood or if I’m some kind of middle school demon spawn. (Unlike the years before it, grade six was a year to REMEMBER). I’m honestly so glad we’ve been able to reconnect these past two years.

      Now, to the blog post. Thanks for all your kind words and all the kindness behind them. So glad you found a breadcrumb! It’s an honor to drop one for you! Thank you as well for calling me humble, it means a lot to me and also to my king and lord Kendrick Lamar.

      You got me on those cliches. I love/hate those things and I need to end my unhealthy relationship with them.

      Thanks for the feedback!


      A bitter man

  3. Dear Lauryn,

    From our first socratic, I was amazed by your analytical and critical thinking skills, as well as your willingness to share your interpretations and ideas. I remember coming into AP my first year, and still this year, and feeling intimidated to share my thoughts – you have inspired me to push further outside of my comfort zone during socratics.

    I have never read “The Stone Angel,” but it has always been on my list of books to read, and reading your post further indicated why it should be on my list of books to read. Your ability to so eloquently and effectively communicate your thoughts are incredible. The diction you have chosen in your blog is powerful, as is your style of writing – it is captivating and to the point, something that I really appreciate. In regards to the content of your blog, I feel as though you have encapsulated all that I have felt, both at times in the past and present. I feel like everyone can relate to what you have written, whether it be personally or in someone they know, and that is what makes this piece so impactful. The analysis that you were able to draw out from “The Stone Angel,” and further relate to your own life, is impressive.

    As for suggestions, I honestly feel that any changes could potentially complicate the authenticity with which you have written this blog. However, I do agree with Jade in that there were some cliche sentences/phrases, although they didn’t undermine what was being said, there just might be different ways to approach them in future blogs. I did feel that there was good sentence variety in this blog as well.

    Thank you for sharing this blog with us, I can’t wait to get to read more of your pieces!



    1. Dearest Shyla,

      It is solely because of people like you that I can find the courage to speak up at all. The safe, tolerant environment you and others create in the class truly makes it unique. If I have inspired you at all to share your thoughts, it is only a reciprocation of your inspiration to me!

      I’m glad you found some truth in my blog! That is the ultimate compliment! And DEFINITELY read this book if you get a chance. It’s a paradigm shift waiting to happen (at least for me it was).

      And I’ll definitely keep my eye out for cliches in my writing. They get me every time!!!!!



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