How is the notion of social stratification is used in "The Revolt of 'Mother'?"

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although social stratification usually refers to the rich and the poor, in “The Revolt of ‘Mother’” it refers to the difference in the rights of men and women.

When Sarah Penn realizes that her husband has planned to build himself a bigger barn instead of the better house he promised her, she explains to her daughter Nanny that she needs to get used to being lesser than men.

“…One of these days you'll find it out, an' then you'll know that we know only what men-folks think we do, so far as any use of it goes, an' how we'd ought to reckon men-folks in with Providence, an' not complain of what they do …”

She tells her daughter this in frustration, slamming things around and shoving her aside.  She is clearly irritated with her lower status.  Even her son realizes this, because when they ask him how long he has known about plans to build the barn he says he’s known for three months.  They ask why he didn’t tell them.

“Didn't think 'twould do no good.”

The boy is young enough to still sympathize with his mother, but he also recognizes the futility of her argument.  He will do what he will do.

When her husband does not relent, Mother decides to do something.  Visiting the new barn, she realizes that it would make a nicer house than she has now.  So she moves in.  In doing so, she takes her power back—defying her social stratification and demonstrating to the men that she is not as subservient as they want her to be.

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The Revolt of 'Mother'

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