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Written Analysis of the Short Story “the Revolt of ‘mother’ ”

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Essay title: Written Analysis of the Short Story “the Revolt of ‘mother’ ”

Written analysis of the short story “The Revolt of ‘Mother’ ”

Shirlley Padia Lopes

This work will treat about the short story “The Revolt of Mother”, written by Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman and it will be based on the feminist criticism. By this criticism, this short story from Freeman is a kind of innovation in literature made by women. Feminist Criticism has been developed with the rising of the feminist movement in sixties, and particularly in literature, since the publication, in the United States, of the doctoral thesis “Sexual Politics” by Kate Millet, in 1970. This slope of the literary criticism has been questioning the patriarchal academic practice.

In the short story “The Revolt of Mother” we can identify the feminist thought of its author. She wasn’t perpetuating the patriarchal way of making literature. By this thought, women were/are just allegories, they were/are: erotic characters, by their physical beauty; the mad woman; the incompetent; the fragile; that one who sacrifices herself for the other, like Antigone, Oedipus daughter, in Oedipus at Colonus play, by Sophocles. Freeman shows us a protagonist who discovers her potential as citizen, someone who rebels against the Society and Church moral rules to guarantee her happiness and her children’s.

The author focuses on the plight of women whose lives are bounded by poverty and the social constraints imposed on them by their strict religious beliefs and their position as women. The focus given by freeman is related with her own plight in the past, when she wasn’t a recognized writer. She was a young woman, humiliated by the condition of poverty that was suffering her family. What obligated her to live in a reverend’s home, where her mother was working as housekeeper. The big trouble was that she had been in love for a long time with reverend’s son, who didn’t love her. That situation of her life can be the responsible for the improvement of her thought about the women’s position.

“The Revolt of a Mother” is a fiction that has as plot a woman “Mother” who discovers that her husband is going to build another barn to shelter more cows, instead of building a new house to his family as he had promised her forty years ago, in the marriage with Sarah, the mother. Since the beginning of the narrative, the author make us feel some determination in “Mother” like when she saw the men working in the field. She called for her husband and said: “Look here, father, I want to Know what them men are diggin’ over in the field for, an’ I’m goin’ to Know.” As the behavior in force, the patriarchal moral, her husband didn’t replay and said her to go into the house to “tend to your own affairs”. But she didn’t, she asked him again: “I ain’t goin’ into the house till you tell me what them men are doin’ over in the field”. After her third inquiry, the man said to her what he was going to build. This passage is enough to prove that “Mother” wasn’t acting like a typical woman who accepts her submission.

After that, “father” went out and mother went into the house and started talking with her children. Her daughter, Nanny, asked the same question about the man working in the yard, so Mother said what was going to be built there and Nanny muttered. Then, she asked her brother, Sammy, if he had known about the new barn and he said yes. So mother asked him: “How long have you known it?” and he said: ‘Bout three months, I guess.” He also told that the barn was for four new cows.

The next moment in the narrative has an especial subtle and refined denunciation of the position of women, differently from the men.

His mother said nothing more. She went into the pantry and there was a clatter of dishes. The boy got his cap from a nail behind the door, took an old arithmetic from the shelf, and started for school. He was lightly built but clumsy. He went out of the yard with a curious

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