The literary purpose of the beginning part of Stone Angel is to provide expository information on the main characters, the setting, and the situation through the use of symbolism. The author has, without actually describing the main character, know her background family life, her childhood home, her thoughts, and parts of her personality. It is set up in such a way to allow the reader interest into the rest of the story, as well, as guess at what is to come. The symbols of the stone angel, the cemetery it is in, and the flowers found within allow us to glimpse into the main characters head before she is formally heard or discussed.
The first thing that we are able to learn about is the main characters mother and father. We learn that her mother died giving birth to her, as she "relinquished her feeble ghost as I gained my stubborn one." We learn that her father bought the memorial of the stone angel not out of love or remembrance to this woman, but rather to "proclaim his dynasty" forever, to be forever telling the town that he was wealthy enough to provide such a burial for his wife, that he was good enough. The stone angel stood not as a tribute, but rather as a means for self-advancement in the eyes of the town. The angel itself serves as a symbol perhaps of the woman she was bought to remember, the main characters mother. She has "sightless eyes," and was "doubly blind, not only stone but unendowed without even a pretense of sight." This appears to be a symbol tribute to the mother, someone who was never truly able to see the world around her, never able to view with unbiased eyes, her own husband. The angel was "brought from Italy at a terrible expense and was pure white marble . . . She must have been carved in the distant sun by stone masons . . . gouging her like out by the score . . . gauging with admirable accuracy . . . of fledgling pharaohs in an uncouth land." This shows us perhaps what the father actually thought of the woman who was her wife, and seems to be a symbol of such.