The lees in wine are the dregs and sediment at the bottom, the part that nobody drinks. In Laurence's The Stone Angel Murray F. Lees is an insurance salesman, who admits that those in his profession are considered the dregs of society. Despite being the kind of person Hagar Shipley would normally have dismissed as boring and annoying, he is actually a representation of atonement. Hagar's atonement starts with developing an understanding of religion and blame, and becomes obvious with purgation. When Hagar is finished with her conversation with Mr. Lees she has atoned for the miseries that have plagued her throughout her life.
Previous to meeting Mr. Lees, Hagar had no desire to listen to what anyone told her about religion. When the local minister, Mr. Troy, visits her, she is rude and uncooperative with him. However, Mr. Lees is able to communicate with Hagar about religion. Lees was a member of a religious group known as the Redeemer's Advocates, a name that will be representative of his role in Hagar's redemption with herself. Like Hagar, Lees has no actual faith in religion, and says that "I kind of mislaid it and when I went to look for it, it wasn't there". Lees' religion was the cause of his greatest loss, when his son died in a house fire while Murray and Lou Lees were at the Tabernacle. This loss created a permanent distrust in religion for Murray Lees, something Hagar also has. The loss of a child reminds Hagar of the loss of her son, John, which allows her to trust Lees' opinion of religion. Unlike Mr. Troy, who has only learned about suffering by viewing it from the outside, Mr. Lees has life experience, and understands what suffering really is. This creates an emotional bond between Hagar and Mr. Lees, allowing Hagar to finally find someone who shares her view on religion.
While Mr. Lees was a person that Hagar could identify with for religion, during their discussion she also came to terms with the blame for a son's death. When Mr. Lees tells the story of his son burning to death in a fire, he says that he "can't figure out whose fault it could have been". As he goes through a long list of people who were not actually to blame, Hagar tells him that "no one's to blame.". This shows that Hagar finally realizes that there can be no one to blame for an incident that randomly happens. Later, when she discusses John's death, and the anger she feels about it, she says that the direction of her anger is "not at anyone, just that it happened that way". With this new knowledge, gained through Mr. Lees own experience, Hagar learns that she is not to blame, nor anyone else, for John's death.
With Mr. Lees helping Hagar come to terms with these things, she has started to be redeemed. However, she is not redeemed in the eyes of God, as most people would want, but she is redeemed in her own mind, of the memories and guilt that troubled her. Lees listens to the story of John's death, while Hagar doesn't realize that she has told it, and when she if mortified to learn she told the story aloud, he merely says to her: "It's quite okay. Do you good to tell it." This is very true, as telling the story that's been locked up inside of her for so long makes her very happy. The next day, when she thanks Mr. Lees for sharing stories, she says that "having spoken so, I feel lightened and eased." She notices that Lees, who is nervous after betraying his promise to not tell Marvin, looks "surprised and shaken, yet somehow restored", which shows that the cathartic conversation helped him as well. In fact, when Hagar is about to go to sleep after telling the story of John's death she thinks that she could even "beg God's pardon this moment, for thinking ill of Him at some time or other." This is perhaps the most obvious evidence that Hagar feels redeemed after talking with Mr. Lees and exorcizing the demons that have plagued her all these years.