The Power of Decision
Decisions shape our lives. In history , the decisions of leaders and generals have changed the course of mankind. In today's world , multi-billion dollar corporations rest on the decisions of a few select executives. On a smaller but no less important scale, acting on decisions can liberate people from stagnation. In the story "The Revolt of Mother" the main character shows us the power of acting on decisions. Mother recognizes the wrongs of her situation and weighs the effect on her family. In the end she acts to free herself and her family from forty years of wrong.
Mother lives forty years with a suppressed dream-a new house promised to her after her wedding. She lives with the everyday routine of cleaning the house and cooking pies for the family. This shows the stagnation of her everyday existence; an existence brought about by forty years of non-decision. Mother stays content with her shack. "She was a masterly keeper of her box of a house. Her one living room never seemed to have in it any of the dust which the friction of life with inanimate matter produces"(LACpg.284). This shows the lack of empowerment mother has at this time of the story. This state is partly due to the society-a time that was male dominated and discouraged the wife to speak out-and partly because mother just feel into a routine that included everything except her happiness. I felt that mother centered her life around providing for her family but forgot to look towards her own needs. She bakes pies, cooks dinner and it everything else except things that made her happy. Mother discovers disturbing news when she learns that her future house is giving way to Father's new barn. Mother would have probably let her dream die if it were not for a conversation with her daughter. Mother realizes that it's not just her happiness involved. This breach of contract now involved the happiness of the family. Mother does something that changes her state: she decides and acts on it.
Many times our personal happiness takes a back seat in a busy world. I forget my own need sometimes just trying to please loved ones-mom, dad, mom, dad. Sometimes when someone else's happiness is in jeopardy I'm more inclined to act. Mother is ashamed that her daughter is going to be married in such a small, drafty house. "I want you to look at the stairs that go up to them unfinished chambers that are all the places that our son an' daughter have to sleep in all their lives. There ain't a prettier girl in town nor a more ladylike than Nanny, an' that's the place she has to sleep in"(LAC pg. 286). Mother does something remarkable. Though she vehemently denies to doing so, Mother decides to complain. She complains to father and break the monotonous silence and complains. As far as we know Mrs. Penn has failed to do this for forty years. Though she gets a less than favorable response from her husband-"I ain't got nothin' to say"-it is the first response about the subject in years. It's a very important event because Mrs. Penn gets the answer to her forty year question-no. The house is not going to be built. Mrs. Penn's dream dies for now. Then a new opportunity shows the power of acting on decision.
There is an old saying that says: When God closes a door he opens a window and a back door and a manhole and a secret entrance. There are always different solutions or second chances to resolve problems. Mrs. Penn acted on her first decision to confront her husband's neglect of the family's comfort. She tried and failed to change her husband's mind. Opportunity presents Mrs. Penn another chance to set things right. Father leaves the family and newly built barn to take a buy a horse in Vermont. Earlier, Nanny, with gentle pettishness, suggested to have the wedding in the barn. This helps fuel a bold decision by Mrs. Penn.
"S'posin' I had wrote to Hiram, she had muttered once, when she was in the pantry-"s'psoin I had wrote him , an' asked if he knew of any horse? But I didn't an father's goin' an it ain't none of my doin'. It looks live a providence"(LAC pg.289).
Mrs. Penn decides a divine opportunity has been presented to her. Again the power of acting on decision motivates her to do something radical-a move into the barn during the absence of Father. Mrs. Sarah Penn has no second thoughts as she orders her children to move the furniture into the barn. This act has the local population in a state of awe and confusion. How could this woman go against the standards and the norms of the time? Mrs. Penn simply decides to act towards the happiness a herself and her family.
Sarah Penn decides she is sick of watching the death of dreams. This act empowers Mrs. Sarah Penn in the end. As Father enters the barns she makes it clear that the family intends to stay.
" I ain't crazy. There ain't nothin' to be upset over. But we've come here to live , an' we're goin to live here. We've just as good a right as the horses and cows. The house wa'n't fit for us to live any longer, an' I made up my I wa'n't goin' to stay there"(LAC pg.292).
Sarah Penn has acted on a decisions. Mother forces Father to do something that has been put off for forty years-a choice between his personal needs and the needs of his family. Sarah Penn has created a situation where father can't escape change. Father can either loose his family or meet their needs. Either way, Sarah forces a change in the forty year stalemate. Ultimately Father decides to meet the needs of the family. Sarah Penn stood up and produced the most important thing-results. I believe the author gave Mrs. Penn a name-Sarah-in the end because she claims the god given right to be noticed and heard.
Sarah Penn reminds me of another historical figure that forced a change-Mrs. Rosa Parks. Mrs. Rosa Parks decided that she was tired so she sat in the white section of the bus. Her decision to sit and her act of defiance forced us to re-evaluate Civil Rights. We were forced to know her name and realize her wrong. The power of acting out a decision gave Mrs. Rosa Parks a name and a voice that others rallied around to right a breach of contract. A decision that is made and acted upon has no other outcome but results. It forces a change to happen and sets us free from a circular trap of inaction and indecision. I decide tonight to break a cycle of indecision by calling someone. For an entire week I was thinking up reasons to call this person. For an entire week I was caught in indecision. In the middle of writing this paper, I decide to bite the bullet and call. Sure enough, I broke the cycle and received some results. The results raised some new problems-a decision of where to bring her for lunch. I will take this kind of decision over a week or wondering any day.
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