In "The Revolt of Mother," the mother takes over the new barn as her new house. She also stands up to the minister when he questions her about it. In these scenes, how does Freeman reveal Mother's...

In "The Revolt of Mother," the mother takes over the new barn as her new house. She also stands up to the minister when he questions her about it. In these scenes, how does Freeman reveal Mother's character through destruction and figurative language?

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cneukam1379 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sarah Penn is a patient woman who has finally had enough. She has been waiting 40 years to move from her family's small farmhouse to a larger one. As she watches her husband build yet another barn, she decides enough is enough. When Adoniram leaves home to purchase a horse, Sarah takes his absence as a sign that she and her children should move into the new barn and make it a home.  Freeman describes this move as equal to "Wolfe's storming of the Heights of Abraham," an allusion to General James Wolfe's successful siege against the French army during the French and Indian War.  To compare Mrs. Penn to a general strategizing against her husband reveals the patience and tenacity of Mrs. Penn. While she admits that she had not written her bother, who was selling the horse, the opportunity presented itself to Mrs. Penn when her husband left town. As a good general would do, Mrs. Penn struck and struck quickly.

With Mrs. Penn's encounter with the Rev. Mr. Hersey, another allusion is used to reveal her devotion to her cause: a reference to the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock:

“I think it's right jest as much as I think it was right for our forefathers to come over from the old country 'cause they didn't have what belonged to 'em,” said Mrs. Penn. She arose. The barn threshold might have been Plymouth Rock from her bearing.

Mrs. Penn's choice to move into the barn was one of urgency and justice, just like the Pilgrims' decision to move to the New World. She feels righteous, and this new side of Sarah frightens her husband. The end of the story shows Adoniram weeping, and the last simile of the story is used to circle back to the reference to war: "Adoniram was like a fortress whose walls had no active resistance, and went down the instant the right besieging tools were used."