“Mother”, the magnum opus of the revolutionary Russian writer, Maxim Gorky, divulges to the reader, the a somewhat accurate peep into the lives of the working class people in soviet union in later half of 19th century and early stages of 20th century when the formerly agrarian Russia enters into a capitalist mode. The story plays with poignant themes to express the stressed lives of the factory workers, their families and their cynical outlook towards life.
Written during around the time of Industrialization, the novel reveals how the ordinary soviet plebs realized, stirred and involved in an upheaval and mêlée against the autocratic czar and the capitalists of the country which ultimately ended with the great October Revolution.
Like most revolutions, this one is also ignited at the base of the society, and the “people power” is employed to overthrow the existing servitude, apathy and trepidation. In “Mother”, Gorky takes the reader through that transformational phase where the revolutionaries persistently struggle to make their initial ignition in the minds of the people and persevere to keep it burning and how the uprising evolves to the revolution.
The plot concentrates on Pelageya Nelovna – the widow of a petty factory worker Vlassov, who stays away from social consciousness and revolutionary movements because of the burden of her life itself. She is accustomed to an outlook towards life, where men work till their bodies are completely tired, drink and beatup their wives and children to sublimate their frustration. However , she begins to transform when her son Pavel Vlassov, who takes a different direction when compared to other people living in the workers townships and moves in the path of revolution and eventually becoming an absolute part of the revolution itself, and inspired thousands of soviet workers lived under the capitalist society of the then soviet union. Initially, she is fearful that her son’s Bolshevik revolutionary activities will bring disaster on him and the family. As the story unfolds and the son’s commitment grows in line with the government’s repressive policies the mother starts, slowly, very slowly, to get the point of his work. Along the way her own `politics’ change and by the end she is as committed to the cause as her son. Her banner is now red She became “representative mother” for the country calling and supporting her children to fight for their rights.
Though, Gorky adopts a slow-paced, dragging style of writing, “Mother” is a good piece of social propaganda with a great, radical story.