It can be perceived that the narrative, The Revolt of Mother highlights the situation of gender roles during the nineteenth century where women were expected to submit to the men without objection. The narrative presents a scenario where individuals in Sarahs town abide by a strict rule on the division of labor. In summary, Adoniram perceives that the events taking place in the sheds and fields should not concern Sarah. Any woman who attempts to take the role of her husband in managing the barns is considered to be untamed and lawless. The reference to the towns response by the author presents evidence of how preconceived analogies may impact an individual and the whole society. Gender roles is among the major themes present in the story as depicted by the use of characterization by Mary E. Wilkins.
The theme of gender roles develops at the beginning of the narrative through the dialogue between Adoniram and Sarah. The author states, Father! The old man slapped the saddle upon the mare's back. Look here, father, I want to know what them men are diggin' over in the field for, an' I'm goin' to know, (Wilkins). The old man then responds by telling the woman to go back to the house and mind her business. The conversation implies that women during the nineteenth centuries, women were expected to stay away from roles played by men and question their actions. The decision to build a barn instead of a house is also shared between the men in Sarah Penns family as evidenced by Sarah's reaction when her son informs him that he was aware of his fathers decision to put up a barn instead of a house for quite some time.
Gender roles also apply in the lives of children particularly on them being notified of their position in the society from an early age. In the narrative, the boy child is left to go to school while the females remain at home to handle the house chores. When Sarah Penn gets into the house after her husband, leaves, she gets her son grooming himself to get out of the house. The son then leaves the house for school while the daughter is left handling house chores. Wilkins states, He went out of the yard with a curious spring in the hips that made his loose home-made jacket tilt up in the rear. The girl went to the sink, and began to wash the dishes that were piled up there, (Wilkins).
The gender difference is also depicted by the manner in which the men respond to women. While talking to her son, the son only responds after Sarah emphasizes on getting an answer. A good illustration is the conversation, Is he goin' to buy more cows? said she. The boy did not reply; he was tying his shoes. Sammy, I want you to tell me if he's goin' to buy more cows. I s'pose he is. However, the sister is illustrated as calm and gentle in her manner of interaction. Penns message to her daughter on the difference between men and women also indicates that women during that time were aware that they had no power to interfere with what men did or rather question their actions. Penn states, an' how we'd ought to reckon men-folks in with Providence, an' not complain of what they do any more than we do of the weather, (Wilkins).
As stated earlier, gender roles is among the major themes present in the story as depicted by the use of characterization by Mary E. Wilkins. Gender division is viewed from the manner in which the men address the women and the depiction of each characters. The author depicts women as soft spoken when compared to the men who exhibit rudeness when being addressed by women.
Wilkins, Mary E. The Revolt of Mother: From a New England Nun and Other Stories. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1891.
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