(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

After The Home-maker was published, Fisher was disconcerted that many reviewers interpreted it as, in her words, a “whoop for women’s rights”; her intention, she said, was to depict the rights of children. Fisher does spend much detail on the learning processes of the Knapp children, especially Stephen. For example, when Lester becomes concerned about Stephen’s seemingly unmanageable temper, he devises a plan to harness the energy that Stephen expends in being angry. He gives him an eggbeater and challenges him to figure out how it works. Fisher devotes several pages to the description of Stephen’s initial frustration with the tool and his eventual mastery of it. She demonstrates how the frustrations of a “problem child” can be alleviated by a creative, caring parent.

Yet, in devoting a fictional project to the subject of homemaking, traditionally women’s work, Fisher is certainly writing about women’s rights. When Aunt Mattie visits Lester at home and is dismayed to find him cooking and darning socks, he says to her, “Do you know what you are saying to me, Mattie Farnham? You are telling me that you really think that homemaking is a poor, mean, cheap job beneath the dignity of anybody who can do anything else.” He realizes that women’s work in the home is never accorded the worth or respect that it deserves, largely because profit, at least in terms of monetary gain, is not involved. By making Lester her spokesperson, Fisher emphasizes the fact that homemaking should be everyone’s job; she corrects the platitude “A woman’s place is in the home” by showing that both men and women have places there.

Fisher also criticizes a burgeoning American consumerism through Lester, who finds Jerome Willing’s tactics in drawing customers to his store morally reprehensible. This critique is countered, however, by the fact that both Willing and Eva find meaningful work in the department store. Thus, Fisher emphasizes the fact that all...

(The entire section is 811 words.)