The Revolt of "Mother"

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The Revolt of "Mother"
Author Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
Published 1890-09-??
Type Fiction, Short story
Genre Drama
Themes Farm, Feminism
Age Group Adult

The Revolt of "Mother" is a short story written by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman and first published in Harper's Bazaar in September 1890, then published a year later in an anthology. The story became important to women involved in first-wave feminism. This story is in the public domain.

The story is told from the perspective of a housewife living in New England around 1890. Her husband of 40 years has not only failed to keep his promise to build his family a larger house despite having the means, but now intends to build a large new barn in its stead. This angers the long-suffering mother so much she decides to take matters into her own hands.


Own?Compilation book.
Read?Compilation book.

I chose to read this story at random from an anthology because I wanted to learn more about female authors.




— This section contains spoilers! —


  • Seeing Sarah go from being a long-suffering housewife to asserting herself over her negligent husband was quite enjoyable. Even when Father Hersey attempts to change his mind, he's quickly intimidated by her.
  • When Sarah plainly explains to her daughter that men don't think much of women, and her fiancée will be the same way, it's both real and a bit sad.
  • I like the bit of tension when the kids are not sure what their mother is going to do as she orders them to pack up their belongings. Is she going to leave? Burn the house to the ground?
  • I like that Adoniram, though it took him a long time to realize it, finally understood that he was being unfair to his faithful and hardworking wife, and accepted her decision to take what she deserved.


  • The ending felt a bit too rosy to be realistic.


  • Nothing.


Strong female character?PassSarah is described as having always had her own thoughts, but finally acts on them which shows growth.
Bechdel test?FailThe women only ever speak about the father.
Strong person of color character?FailThere are no non-white characters.
Queer character?FailThere are no queer characters.


The short story has been adapted to a short film.


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