What Do I Read Next?
Other short stories of note by Mary Wilkins Freeman include ‘‘Sister Liddy,’’ a story about women living in the poorhouse, ‘‘A Conflict Ended,'' in which a stubborn parishioner refuses to enter the church, sitting on the steps instead, because he disagrees with the hiring of the new minister.
Kate Chopin's short novel The Awakening (1899) chronicles the story of a young mother in Louisiana who leaves her husband and children in search of her own identity and later commits suicide. Like Freeman, Chopin has caught the attention of feminist critics and historians for her depiction of women's lives at the end of the last century.
Carolyn Chute's novel The Beans of Egypt, Maine (1985) is an example of a recent work that continues the local color realist tradition. It tells of the poor and eccentric inhabitants of a small rural town in north-central Maine.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman's social analysis, Women and Economics (1898), contends that the sexual and maternal roles of nineteenth-century women were overemphasized and their true potential neglected.
Thomas Gray's 1751 poem ‘‘An Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard’’ meditates on the unrealized potential of the rural people buried in a cemetery. Many, he suggests, may have possessed artistic talent or other gifts stunted by ignorance or lack of opportunity. Critics have noted that the opening to ‘‘A New England Nun'' seems to echo the opening to this poem.
Sarah Orne Jewett's collection of short stories The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896) is regarded by most critics as her finest work. A local colorist and a contemporary of Mary Wilkins Freeman, Jewett wrote about aging Maine natives trying to preserve the values of the past in a dying small town. Critics often compare Freeman and Jewett.