In the same fashion that the law binds the Biblical Hagar to Abram and Sarah, Hagar Shipley is bound by the Currie code of values, the Shipley freedom, and the Manawakan elitist attitude, in addition to her own pride. Hagar Shipley is a modernised version of the Biblical Hagar, in that, people can no longer be bound as slaves in western culture but are, quite often, bound by personal or social restraints, like Hagar is. Hagar’s freedom is limited by the conflicting influences in her own life.
The Currie virtue keeps Hagar from expressing any outward form of emotion, which, ultimately, limits or ruins the majority of her relationships, including her marriage to Brampton Shipley. Initially attracted to the Shipley casualness and freedom, because it is the exact opposite to the Currie conformity, Hagar marries Bram, a poor farmer and social outcast. Her marriage, however, seems to be more out of spite than anything else.
Having gone from one extreme to the other, Hagar realizes that the Shipley freedom or, more accurately, laziness is not what she wants or needs. In the meantime, Hagar, like her archetype, plays the role of “the dutiful wife. ” She engages in sexual activity with Bram even though she does not want to. As a result, she bears a son, Marvin, whom she never really loves or cares for. In addition, Hagar, having been a part of the Manawakan elite, is bound to their unwritten codes of conduct and values the same way that the Biblical Hagar is bound, by law, to Abram and Sarah.
In order to elude additional persecution, both Hagars have to conform to the laws of their respective cultures and time periods. Hagar, already an outcast for marrying Brampton, excludes herself from social activities in order to avoid being ridiculed by the upper class Manawakans, including her father. Both Hagars are also bound by pride, a pride which, more than anything else, influences the decisions both women make with the little freedom they have. The Biblical Hagar’s pride grows when she bears Abram a son. As a result, she is rude to Sarah.
After being reprimanded for her insolence, Hagar flees to the desert because she, filled with pride, cannot tolerate further degradation. Similarly, Hagar Shipley, tired of being persecuted on account of Bram, leaves Manawaka to reestablish and restart her life in Ontario. Both characters, however, are drawn back home. The Biblical Hagar returns to Abram only after an angel appears to her and foretells that Ishmael will bring great posterity. Hagar Shipley is drawn back to Manawaka for different reasons – duty and family.
John, her youngest son whom she loves dearly, lives in Manawaka with his father, Bram. As Bram becomes ill, Hagar, impelled to help him and her son, returns to the Shipley farm. Both women return home on account of their sons. Almost immediately after their return, however, both women leave again and set off to wander in the wilderness. The archetypal Hagar physically wanders in the wilderness where she finds God and becomes reassured that her son will have a great nation of descendants.