I STAND HERE IRONING TILLIE OLSEN PDF

Her reflections begin during the Great Depression, when Emily was born. Eight months later, the father leaves, and the narrator has to seek work while leaving Emily in the care of others. Their lives seem to improve materially when the narrator remarries. But Emily catches the measles around the time that the narrator has another daughter, Susan.

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From what I understand, the young mother initially has a rough life, and can barely keep track of herself and her daughter, Emily. This caused the distance between the mother and Emily to become greater, even to the point that Emily does not like physical affection such as hugs from her mother.

The mother loves her daughter greatly, but she does not have the means of providing for her child as she would like to. As there are other children and husbands added to the family, Emily seems to move farther from them all. As Emily grows older, the mother is regretful of the way Emily has grown up.

The mother criticizes and blames herself for this, causing tension in their already stressful relationship. The mother is obviously suffering from guilt and wretched memories of Emily suffering. Emily, too, is suffering. We see her stiffness towards all that care for her, her quietness in her daily duities, and her feelings of worthlessness towards herself. And, as the mother stands there ironing, she contemplates her daughter and the troubles that they have.

The constant motion of the ironing is like a sedative to the mother, as it calms her greatly. Because ironing is such a monotonous job, the mother has time to think her disturbing thoughts. Thus, the theme of coming to terms with and overcoming the past hardships emerges.

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Tillie Olsen’s I Stand Here Ironing: Summary & Analysis

From what I understand, the young mother initially has a rough life, and can barely keep track of herself and her daughter, Emily. This caused the distance between the mother and Emily to become greater, even to the point that Emily does not like physical affection such as hugs from her mother. The mother loves her daughter greatly, but she does not have the means of providing for her child as she would like to. As there are other children and husbands added to the family, Emily seems to move farther from them all.

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I Stand Here Ironing

Plot Overview Summary Plot Overview The unnamed narrator, a mother, is ironing while speaking on the phone with an unnamed individual who is most likely a social worker, teacher, or counselor. The mother likens the back-and-forth motion of the iron to her own mental process as she considers the cautionary statement made by this outside party. The narrator balks, wondering what she can possibly do to change the situation. The narrator feels she would become mired in the abstractions of the situation, all the things she should have done or those things that cannot be altered. The narrator remembers how beautiful Emily was as a baby, then her awkward phase, followed by the blossoming of her beauty in her late teens. The narrator recalls running home from work to retrieve Emily, who always cried when she spotted her. The narrator is still angry that she had no other choice.

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