Critical Overview

‘‘The Revolt of ‘Mother’’’ first appeared in Harper’s Bazaar in 1890, and the following year was published with very little changes in Freeman’s second short story collection, A New England Nun and Other Stories. A reviewer in The Critic in 1891 wrote about this collection, ‘‘Here are twenty-four stories so complete in form, so exquisite in texture, so fine that to single out any one, such as ‘‘The New England Nun,’’ ‘‘Calla Lilies and Hannah,’’ or ‘‘The Revolt of ‘Mother’’’ for special praise means simply that there are times when the author has surpassed the even beauty of her literary style.’’

Reviewers have lauded the story subsequently. Charles Miner Thompson saw it as a comic tale, writing in the Atlantic Monthly that it was ‘‘the most distinctly humorous of [Freeman’s] stories.’’ Other reviewers looked at the story in a more serious light. In her 1903 essay concerning Freeman’s art, Julia R. Tutwiler wrote, that ‘‘The Revolt of ‘Mother’’’ ‘‘has the qualities of the classic.’’

In 1917 Freeman expressed in an essay that appeared in The Saturday Evening Post her own criticism of ‘‘The Revolt of ‘Mother’,’’ stating that it ‘‘was an evil day I wrote that tale.’’ Freeman condemned her own story primarily on the basis that ‘‘all fiction ought to be true’’; ‘‘The Revolt of ‘Mother’’’ was...

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