The dictionary defines pride as being an undue sense of one's own superiority; arrogance; conceit; or, that with which one is justly or unjustly proud.
Hagar's "double-edged" sword of pride, while it eventually lead to her destruction was also the means of her salvation and protection. Throughout the novel, Hagar's pride constantly comes between her and others. When dealing with her father, her husband, and her children, Hagar lets her pride or "awful strength" rule her emotions and thus dominate the situation.
Hagar, as a child, was forced by her father to develop her emotional strength. She was expected to excel at everything and to always be the best -- "or else". While this could be considered abusive, it also protected her by making her strong and almost oblivious to pain. It was this scenario that made her decide, even at a young age, to keep her feelings to herself and to never allow anyone to see her cry. Once more we see her pride both helping her and hindering her -- forcing her to hide her emotions and true feelings but at the same time protecting her from her father's vengeance.
"I wouldn't let him see me cry, I was
so enraged." (7)
"How I feared his hands, and him, but I'd
as lief have died as let him know." (37)
The pride she carried on her shoulders became a burden she had to bear alone, but it was not just a self-created one. Her father was a wealthy man as well as a pillar of the community. At the time, it was considered an immense accomplishment to be an owner of a store. This prestige effected the entire family's life and when they "screwed-up" in public and he felt that it was damaging to him, they were promptly punished.
" Have you no regard for my reputation?" (7)
Hagar, as a child, soon learned that she should consider herself better than most of the other children in the small town, thus creating the burden of pride that she would bear the... [continues]
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