Analysis of The Revolt of Mother

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Analysis of The Revolt of Mother

“The Revolt of ‘Mother’” by Mary Wilkins Freeman, was a story of a woman who lived in New England around or before the author’s time. The mother, Sarah Penn, was kept out of the families decisions by the father, Adoniram Penn, until one event that lead to her taking drastic actions while her husband was gone. There are many religious symbols and actions taken by “Mother” within the story. Through the story Sarah moved from a feeling of servitude to her husband, to a feeling that she was in servitude to the Lords will and this led her, in the end, to hold power over her husband.

The religious overtones start with the title of the story, “The Revolt of ‘Mother.’” The name ‘Mother’ in many stories is used to relate to a divine or spiritual woman. It could be a direct reference to Mother Mary, but in the context of this story it is just meant to signify her clarity with what the Lord wants her to do. The word ‘Revolt’ also has religious significance when related with that use of ‘Mother’. The revolt that ‘Mother’ takes is a religious one because it is going against her husband and town’s beliefs, which are both the same. This becomes clear in the part of the story when the minister comes to talk to Sarah about what she has done.

When the minister came to see Sarah on Friday after she had moved into the barn she was described as having a “saintly expression of her face”(529). With that, and the fact that she acts so rude to him, especially since he’s a minister, shows that she does believe she is right under the Lords will and he is not. The author also implies this by the name she gives to the minister, Mr. Hersey. His name sounds just like the word heresy and is spelled very similar. This is another indication that, in fact, the minister is going against the Lords own will and Sarah is not. The narrator has also described the minister as being “ a sickly man” and that, “he had scourge himself up to some of his pastoral duties as relentlessly as a Catholic ascetic”(530). This seems harsh at first but it is just conveying the ignorance of the minister. In the times of this story the town would have to be Protestant or maybe even Puritan, but definitely not Catholic because it is set in early New England times and for the simple fact that he is a minister with a wife. The fact that he is referred to as a “Cathol...

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...other was able to start the revolt.

By the end of the story Adoniram is not in power. This aspect is shown through how Father lacked the power to even remove his jacket, even though he is described as having a “sturdily healthy”(531) frame. He is also not referred to as father, but as an old man. Because old people are usually represented as being weaker and more needing of help, Father takes on the position of lesser power in the family. So because Sarah moved from Adoniram’s servitude to the Lords, father falls to a lesser power. It is in this position that he gives into his wife and builds windows and partitions as she asks.

In the end Sarah has moved from servitude to a position of power in the family. And Adoniram has fallen from his position of not listening to what Sarah wants to one of submission to her needs. But there hasn’t been sufficient foundation laid by Sarah to foreshadow that it will stay this way forever. First because the majority of the revolt took place when Adoniram was absent, so it was easier for her to make this transition. But mainly because as the name implies this was only a revolt. Just because you won a revolt doesn’t mean you’ve won the war.

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