.. (Laurence, pg. 191) Hagars only comfort is in the fact that “. no one else is here to see, and thats something.” (Laurence, pg.
191) Throughout the novel it becomes evident that Hagar will not allow others to take away her pride and self-respect therefore desperately hanging onto life the only way she knows.In order to do this she becomes unpleasant, proud, bitter and vengeful. Ginger Coffey also struggles to survive with dignity. Coffey continuously struggles to hold onto his pride as he begs for work. Coffey continues to try to get difficult and demanding jobs when he is only suited for menial ones . It is his pride that will not let him get the job he is most suitable for.Coffey can not content himself with a simple job and provide for his family in this way ; he wants to become someone important, and achieve personal status even though he can not.
It is in one interview that Coffey realizes what a fool he is. “Stupid blundering fool ! Why didnt you wait to see if he remembered you ? He doesnt know you from a hole in the wall, coming in with your hand out ! Get up, say thank you and go away.” (Moore, pg. 24-25) Coffey tries to survive rejection with some sort of dignity by just saying thank you and leaving. What Coffey wanted in life was the chance to survive, not just for the sake of surviving, but to survive with some dignity.
For! Coffey this meant the ability to acquire personal status. Coffeys problem is that he can not seethe real world in Ireland or Canada. Thus, he moves and live in an unrealistic world where he soon learns that he cant survive. Hagar also lives in an unrealistic world where she struggles to survive by believing that she can take care of herself when in reality she can not. Throughout the novel Hagar and Coffey are on a journey to self realization which in the end becomes they key factor in allowing them to face reality and find their places in society. Coffey finally starts his journey towards self-realization when his world starts to crumble. His wife leaves him and his daughter moves further away from him.
Veronica, Coffeys wife seems to be the only one who knows the real Ginger Coffey and is the one who constantly tries to help him face reality.”Isnt the job youre in always a burden to you, isnt it always no good..will you never face the facts..” (Moore, pg. 58) Coffeys journey into self realization is a comic and pitiful one for Coffey, because it comes too late in life.
Once Coffey is able to get rid of the exalted view he has of himself, and move out of his unrealistic world, he can begin to understand where he must go and what he must do in order to find his place in society. He must face reality and “.. abandon th! e facts of his life for the facts of the world,” (Moore, pg.118) before this can be done. It is before the mirror, a symbol of truth in the novel, that Ginger Coffey sees his real self, “His image in the dresser mirror .. He hated that man in the mirror, hated him.
Oh, God, there was a useless bloody man, coming up to forty and still full of a boys dreams of ships coming in; of adventures and escapes and glories still to be.” (Moore, pg. 93) Coffey no longer sees himself as a young boy with the capability of doing anything but sees himself as he truly is.The final realizations comes to Coffey in the very end of the novel, “He knew now, something he had not known before. A mans life was nobodys fault. He must pay for it himself.” (Moore, pg. 225) “He had learned the truth.
Life was the victory,..Going on was the victory.” (Moore, pg.243) What Coffey wanted in life was the chance to survive, not just for the sake of surviving, but to survive with some dignity. ! For Coffey this meant the ability to acquire personal status. Hagar also journeys into self realization when she runs away from home to Manawaka because she does not want to be sent to the nursing home. But out alone in the world, we see that she cannot survive, she needs others to take care of her.
” And then I do fall. My feet slip, both together on a clump of wet moss, and Im down.My elbows are skinned on rough bark…
Under my ribs the pain drums. I cant move. I cant rise.” (Laurence, pg. 191) Although Hagar was determined to leave her son and survive on her own she is somewhat secretly happy to see him. “In my heart I have to admit Im relived to see him.
Yet I despise my gladness.Have I grown so weak I must rejoice at being captured, taken alive ?” (Laurence, pg. 252) Hagar realizes she can not survive on her own and continues to be bitter. Thus like Coffey , Hagar journeys into self realization and finally accepts the fact that she is no longer ! a young woman but an old women who needs to be taken care of by others since she can not take care of herself any longer. Hagar also puts her pride aside and comforts her son Marvin when she was in the hospital. “Youve been good to me, always.A better son that John.” (Laurence, pg.
304) This is something she would not have done before. Although in the end both Coffey and Hagar do succumb to reality they can not totally give up on their beliefs. Coffey still resents having to work at menial jobs ; while Hagar when on her death bed is still determined to hold on to the only thing she has left, her pride. “Oh for mercys sake let me hold it myself !” I only defeat myself by not accepting her.I know this- I know it very well. But I cant help it-its my nature.
. Ill not countenance anyone elses holding it for me..” (Laurence, pg. 308) Hagar dies holding on to some pride and feeling defeated by society while Coffey must continue his struggle trying to hold onto h! is pride and dignity as he searches for his proper place in society. Perhaps Hagar is what Coffey is destined to become.
Thus, in the end both Hagar and Coffeys struggles and journey into self-realization allows them to find their proper place in society.Once both the characters come to accept who they really are and face reality they come to the point of self realization which helps them both survive. Although the two characters were different in the sense that they led totally different lives, with different values and expectations they were connected by the fact that they both had an inner struggle that they had to overcome in order to survive in the real world. Both Brian Moore and Margaret Laurence relay a similar message in their novels.
Moore believes that we must sometimes gibe up and sacrifice what we believe in (absolute values) in order to survive in this world and survival is what is important in the end. While Laurence also believes that one cannot hold on to everything they believe in, and survive in society, sometimes absolute values must be sacrifices because in the end ! survival is what counts !.