Grandma Moses, Painter Critical Essays

Tom Biracree


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Biracree begins the story of Moses with the accidental discovery of her art by Caldor, a private collector. On his way home from a vacation, he stopped in a drug-store in Hoosick Falls, New York, and was taken by four paintings in the window. Surprised to see such well-executed pieces of art in a drugstore window, Caldor was even more amazed to learn that they were painted by a woman who was almost eighty years old. Grandma Moses, Painter was intended to be a biography for young adults; however, it also provides the reader with a history of early rural America and the life of a pioneer family.

Biracree portrays Moses as an enterprising, self-sufficient, hardworking young woman who takes equal responsibility on the family farm with her husband. This was quite remarkable for a woman at the beginning of the twentieth century, a time when most women assumed only secondary responsibility to their husbands. Grandma Moses and her husband moved to Staunton, Virginia, where their ten children were born, only five of whom survived childhood. She also shared in earning an income for their family. Biracree explains how Moses supplied a local grocer with 160 pounds of butter each day that she churned every morning starting at four in the morning. Once her children were all in school, she used her extra time to make potato chips for the same grocer. A true pioneer in an era of unliberated women, it was important to Moses to maintain independence and not to have to ask her...

(The entire section is 606 words.)