Hagar’s reaction to seeing Milkman with another woman in Chapter Five of the novel is filled with many metaphors that emphasize the pain and fury Hagar felt when this happened. The passage begins with a search for a weapon.
Hagar’s search for a weapon is compared to a new moon searching for the tide. Since a new moon happens once every 30 days or so, this can suggest something about Hagar. Perhaps Hagar goes into this angry, weapon-searching state every time she finds that her boyfriend, Milkman in this case, has done something to upset her. Here Hagar caught Milkman cheating on another girl. Even though Milkman is over Hagar seeing Milkman with the girl triggered a chain of emotions that Hagar has been hiding in her for so long. Hagar has already started getting fed up by Milkman’s rejection and behavior and thus it is a “fist that had been sitting on her chest.” Milkman and the girl caused this internal loathing to buildup and finally explode. This is why the metaphorical “fist” released its forefinger like the blade of a skinny knife.
Hagar is obviously a very jealous person and also full of fury. Her response to Milkman created this notion that if she cannot receive love she will stalk him, hurt him just to get what she can. She seems anxious without Milkman or even addicted to him like a drug. Hagar is almost described as she was refused her share of drugs and cannot even sleep or dream properly.
Hagar’s behavior can imply a few ideas about society. Milkman left Hagar for a girl with “silky copper-colored hair.” Milkman cannot see past the wealth or status of a person. The girl’s hair indicates her wealth and wealth is apparently what Milkman is addicted to. It seems that the Black community within itself is unfair. The rich tend to prefer association with those whose status is similar to them. The rich like Milkman’s dad Macon Dead II have no concern for those below them. Milkman cast Hagar away like one would toss out clothes that do not appeal anymore. These kind of wealthy people are only concerned of themselves. They do not stop to think how their actions might affect the emotional and or physical state of people with a lower status.
Hagar can represent the lower class. Although they are tossed around like clothes or a nameless, faceless individual with no identity or emotions, they fight back. This is exactly what Hagar is doing. She knows that Milkman no longer cares for her but she still goes out searching for him. Although her intentions toward Milkman are not love-oriented, she is not willing to back down. The class of people that Hagar represents can be implied as hard working, determined and strong-willed. They are treated as second-class citizens within the black community itself.
This passage also suggests how women are treated during this time period. Milkman left Hagar with a simple “thank you” and some money. He did not once console with her of his intentions or how she would feel. Milkman did not even care about Hagar’s emotional feelings. He simply treated Hagar as a tool for pleasure and after he was done using this “tool” he left for another “tool.” Women are not respected in this society within the novel.