Point Of View In "I Stand Here Ironing"

2230 words - 9 pages

"I Stand Here Ironing" was written in the first person so that we could see Emily the wayher mother (narrator) saw her. Through her reverie, we feel the mother's pain that herdaughter felt ugly as a child. We ache with the knowledge that she had to send Emily tothe daycare with the "evil teacher" and to a convalescent home when she wasdesperately ill. We feel her regrets that she couldn't be there with Emily as she wasgrowing because she was working too hard to keep the family together. When Emily is inhigh school we are proud with the mother that Emily is performing on stage - and peoplelove her. We, too, are relieved when Emily "runs up the stairs two at a time with herlight graceful step." She has gone from a shy, awkward girl to a beautiful, confident,graceful woman. We sense the mother's resolve that Emily will be okay: "Why were youconcerned? She will find her way." And, with the mother, we are at peace.By using the first person narrator style, the author gives us only one point of view. Sheplainly states her theme for this hard-luck story: "We were poor and could not afford forher [Emily] the soil of easy growth. Let her be. So all that is in her will not bloom - butin how many does it?" Had the story been told from another point of view, say as a thirdperson, we may have thought that the mother was neglectful, or favored the youngerchildren. When we discover that the mother only smiled at the younger children, we maythink that the mother didn't like Emily. Concern has become disfavor. When we see thatEmily does many of her mother's chores, we may presume that mother is a harsh task-master. We would think, "She needs to do her own housework and let the child be achild." If "I Stand Here Ironing" were written from another point of view, we would notunderstand the circumstances. The theme may become "Despite bad parents and badcircumstances a child can make something of himself."I feel that the Tillie Olsen chose touse the point of view from the mother's eyes because it was the mother that could seethe girls faults, poverty and eventually strengths, but made the story more interesting byintertwining it with the reasons why she felt responsible for them. The "you" in the storycould be and probably is the mother speaking to herself of what she feels she should bedoing for the daughter. A great example of this is when she thinks, "You ought to dosomething about her with a gift like that- but without money or knowing how, what doesone do?". Who else could she be talking to except herself?The story might have been interesting for it to have been writtin additionally throughthe eyes of the old man who live in the back, observing the tired, overworked and muchdemanded of mother who struggled so much to do her best for her children. Or maybehe would have thought she was neglectful and irresponsible. It also would have beeninteresting to present the story from the daughter's point of view, looking back on herchildhood and teenage years. As a mother...

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