Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Though the message of “Revelation” is clear, its impact is underplayed; the reader is left unsure about what Mrs. Turpin has learned from the revelation she has received. It is through the title and the name of the girl, Mary Grace, and chiefly Mrs. Turpin’s reactions that the revelation that comes to her is emphasized.

The revelation is prepared for by the author’s exposition of the character of Mrs. Turpin at the start of the story. The story is narrated from the third-person limited-omniscient point of view: Events are narrated in the third person for all the characters in the story, except for Mrs. Turpin. Others are described as Mrs. Turpin perceives them. Interspersed with the narrative are the thoughts of Mrs. Turpin about how superior Claud and she are to others and how she likes to classify people.

The narrator speaks of how Mrs. Turpin is accustomed to lying in bed at night, contemplating the virtues of different people. In her classification, she puts blacks on the bottom (she usually refers to them as “niggers” not with malice, but through custom), white trash next, then homeowners, followed by “home-and-land owners, to which she and Claud belonged,” ending with people with a large amount of money, who should be beneath Claud and her. At this she thinks of a black dentist who unaccountably has more material possessions than she and Claud do. When she contemplates these values while lying in bed she usually falls...

(The entire section is 472 words.)