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The narrator stands working at her ironing board, responding mentally to a request Tillie Olsen was a high school dropout, who raised four children and. I stand here ironing is a personal and rich piece of literature owing to the fact that its subject matters have not been presented as black or white. “I Stand Here Ironing” is a short story by Tillie Olsen that was first published in See a complete list of the characters in “I Stand Here Ironing” and in- depth.

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External factors are therefore critical in determining how the lives of individuals eventually play out. Things are further complicated by the fact that she is very young and quite poor — having come from an immigrant Russian family herself. Place Published New York. Furthermore, she highlights how stans Emily herself was. The narrator stands working at her ironing board, responding mentally to a request someone a teacher? First, she had to abandon the plans that she had for her education.

Olsen wishes that she was in a position to give her daughter a better life than the one she lived when she was young. Emily feels that she missed out on some of the critical factors of growing up.

The fact that her family members were refugees fext Russia did not help either because it was this difficult situation that caused them to resort to child labor from their daughter in order to make ends meet. She did not get much attention from her mother and this makes her act out against her and the rest of society. Olsen published Yonnondio, an unfinished short novel that she indicates “was begun in in Faribault, Minnesota, when the author was nineteen, and worked on intermittently into or perhaps There is no climax, no answer, no satisfactory conclusion–just the mother’s tormented moving mentally “back and forth with the iron.

This put Olsen at a serious disadvantage because the lack of ironning meant minimal access to great economic ny and hence a life of poverty Olen, 4. At the tender age of sixteen, Olsten could no longer go to school because her family needed her to make economic contributions to their income. Suddenly, Emily appears on the scene. In addition, Olsen was left by her spouse.


She used to complain a lot of times and was never happy with the way they lived. Stereotypical images of happy American families were challenged through this short story and therefore contributed to an understanding of motherhood as being an immensely personal o,sen unique experience to all individuals.

Olsen lacked the strength to confront the social workers who recommended the placement of Emily in a sanatorium. This meant that the biting realities of poverty were quite inclined to one gender over the other. Olsen was abandoned by her husband and left to fend for her family at an early age Olsen, 5. Her mother also goes through numerous reflections on the past and realizes that she could have offered her daughter a better life if she had been more knowledgeable or if she had been wiser.

Though her body of work is small, Tillie Olsen’s unique perceptiveness and style have made her an important American writer.

I stand here ironing is a story that tackles numerous societal problems including mother daughter conflicts, gender roles, diligence, personal effects of national economic struggles and the challenges of single parenthood. The relationship between mother and daughter in this narrative is quite complex thus leading to the negative feelings that Emily has towards Olsen.

Her, as one thinks about Emily, one gets this image of a girl who wanted an ideal parent and this was not possible at the time. Tillie Olsen was a high school dropout, who raised four children and supported them with a series of low-paying jobs in the s through s. Gender roles are also another important theme in the book.

I Stand Here Ironing

In this regard, there was a need to highlight the plight of women who were confronted with unfair situations. However, through the use of theme, readers can identify with their circumstances and hence understand the source of their troubles. Another emerging theme in the story is the personal effects of national economic downfall. Her economic situation made her settle for less even when she knew that she deserved better. Because of the nature of her background, she was not in a position to stand up for her rights.

The girl is a natural performer, a wonderful comedienne, stanf now is in demand throughout the city and state.

I Stand Here Ironing

The issue of persistence in the face of turmoil is also an important theme in the short story. Providing for her child on her own made it quite tricky tlilie Olsen so she had to olaen Emily to relatives Olsen, 6. Indeed the story of Olsen was one that was rarely told in fictional tales at the time. All in all, it can be said that the book was responsible for bringing out a fresh perspective on motherhood.


Some individuals facing such l times would simply decide to give up and let go of their responsibilities. It ironlng essentially a story about internal struggles that a mother faces and the need to redefine herself and her understanding of this role as she reflects on the life of her daughter. Minor signs of affection such as smiles 6 were a virtually unknown to Emily.

Olsen had been abandoned and had to find a way of coping with poverty. Additionally, the image portrayed of women in this story is one of an unfair economical system.

Olsen had the best intentions and actually did what she could at those times. The predicaments faced by this young mother would have been much less if her external environment had been less harsh. Olsen is a single mother who flul faced with the task of bringing up a sickly child Emily on her own.

She probably got tiloie because she was a member of the working class. Mother daughter conflicts or parent to child conflicts are also an important theme in the book. Summary The narrator stands working at her ironing board, responding mentally to a request someone a teacher?

Throughout the story, one does not find any description of women who happen to be economically successful. Eventually, she was able to come out of her difficult predicaments and thus show some optimism for the future.

Motherhood in the story is not presented in the usual romanticized manner that most people have grown accustomed to in that era. Families all over America had to contend with economic challenges and nowhere were these forces more evident that in the single parent homes. Emily is overwhelmed by her past which was filled with a lack of involvement by her mother and also lack of affection from the same individual. This eventually affected her parenting abilities.