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A Modern Woman in a Not So Modern Time

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Essay title: A Modern Woman in a Not So Modern Time

A Modern Woman in a Not so Modern Time

Mary Wilkins Freeman’s, “The Revolt of Mother” first appeared in Harper’s Bazaar in 1890, as a short story. The story is laden with conflict throughout. Sarah Penn’s (Mother’s) conflict is driven by her strong conviction for fair treatment by her husband. She is in conflict with her husband, the community and the gender role defined by the social conventions of that era.

Sarah’s conflict with her husband begins immediately upon the opening sentences of the story. Mother is asking a question that Father doesn’t want to answer. Mother confronts her husband by saying, "Look here, father, I want to know what them men are diggin' over in the field for, an' I'm goin' to know." Father tries to ignore Mother by not acknowledging her question. When he figures that she will not accept his silence as an answer, Father replies, "I wish you'd go into the house, mother, an' 'tend to your own affairs." Father’s actions sets a clear tone for the reader that men are supposed to be in charge of making the decisions and the woman’s role is to go along with whatever decision he thinks is best for the family. Sarah continues to daunt her husband until he tells her about the barn. Sarah replies, “A barn? You ain't goin' to build a barn over there where we was goin' to have a house, father?"

Conflict arises again between Sarah and her husband when she demands that her husband come over and talks with her. Sarah starts by saying, "I want to know what you're buildin' that new barn for, father?" Father’s quick response is, "I 'ain't got nothin' to say about it." Sarah continues her dialogue by saying, "I'm goin' to talk real plain to you: I never have sense

I married you, but I'm goin' to now. I 'ain't never complained, an' I ain't goin' to complain now, but I'm goin' to talk plain. Sarah begins to complain about how Farther is putting barns and cows in front of taking care of his family obligations. Her husband responds by saying, "I 'ain't got nothin' to say." Adoniram went back to work. Sarah was mad as ever. She goes into her room and proceeds to cry.

Adoniram goes to Vermont to buy a new horse he had always wanted. Again he makes decisions for the family without consulting Sarah. Sarah plays along without hesitation or words. She had secretly set planted the seeds in her brother’s head about Adoniram needing a new horse. It was Sarah’s way of getting her husband out of the house so she could carry out her plan.

On the day of Adoniram’s arrival home, the townspeople are milling about trying to see what will happen when Adoniram finds that his wife has revolted against him. There is anticipated conflict from the townspeople as well as Adoniram’s own children. Father asks, "What on airth you all down here for?" said he. "What's the matter over to the house?" Sammy answers his father by saying, "We've come here to live, father." Adoniram responds, "What on airth does this mean, mother?" Sarah begins by telling her husband, "You needn't be scared. I ain't crazy. There ain't nothin' to be upset over. But we've come here to live, an' we're goin' to live here. We've got jest as good a right here as new horses an' cows. The house wa'n't fit for us to live in any longer, an' I made up my mind I wa'n't goin' to stay there." Father again replies, "Why, mother!" After dinner, Father goes outside to sit on the steps. Sarah finds him weeping. Adoniram tells Sarah, "I hadn't no idee you was so set on't as all this comes to."

Sarah’s conflict with the community begins when Sarah makes the decision to move into

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