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I Stand Here Ironing Essay

1034 words - 5 pages

I Stand Here Ironing is set in a historical setting; the story weaves in reference to the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War. The story is told in first person point of view through the mother of Emily. Its logic of being written as it was is governed by the narrator’s train of thought. As the audience, we get to experience directly what the narrator is thinking and we get a deeply personalized story. In this historical context, Olsen’s intimate story is actually a way of speaking truth to power, of representing the life and struggle of an ordinary person.
The purpose of the title is given right in the beginning of the story to us. We learn that the narrator is a mother with ...view middle of the document...

Although the story was told through Emily’s mother, third-person omniscient may have been a better choice, due to her mother’s guilty conscious. Overall, realism is the most important work of Olsen’s story. It focuses on the everyday life of the working classes and tries to convey the material realities of working-class life. In his story he portrays in life and struggles of the working-class narrator.
During the story, we get a certain tone from the narrator that gives off the sense of guilt. We get a sense that the narrator doesn’t get much of a chance to stop and think; she’s always too busy caring for her family. She seems to be looking back at her life with honesty and she realizes the decision she’s made has affected Emily; she feels guilty for that but she’s unsure of what else she could have done. Emily’s mother states, “Old enough for nursery school they said, and I did not know then what I know now…lacerations of group life in nurseries that are only parking places for children. Except that it would have made no difference if I had known” (Olsen, 13). The narrator is not hiding anything from the audience, but that doesn’t mean that she’s proud of the way she raised Emily.
I Stand Here Ironing centers mostly around Emily and her mother; from the time Emily was born her mother struggled to make ends meet. Emily’s mother was nineteen at the time, and her father was not in the picture. To make some money, Emily was left with her father’s family. Her mother remarries but Emily still has trouble fitting in. The marriage brings more stability into their lives, but Emily continues to be plagued with health problems which don’t allow her to see her mother or newborn baby, leaving Emily feeling unwanted.
Emily has a hidden talent of comedy despite being quiet and sad all the time. Comedy may come as a coping method from her negative...

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