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Raising Emily Essay

1347 words - 5 pages

Raising Emily"I Stand Here Ironing" by Tillie Olsen is a short story about a mother struggling to raise her oldest daughter during the Great Depression. The story portrays the regret a mother feels about not spending enough time with her daughter because she is too busy working to keep her family together. The mother feels she has failed in raising her oldest daughter, Emily. The choices the mother makes in trying to provide a healthy family environment and suitable living arrangements results in building a wall between her and her oldest daughter Emily. If only the mother had made different choices while trying to provide for her daughter, Emily's life would have been better.The mother is nineteen during the time of the Great Depression and working or looking for work occupies most of her time. The mother expresses regret at some of the choices she made with her daughter such as "when she was eight months old I had to leave her daytimes with the woman downstairs to whom she was no miracle at all." (Olsen 586). The mother feels guilty at having to leave her child at home while she goes to work and leaving her child with someone who is not suitable for the task can add a sense of fear as well. Before Emily was a year old, her father left a note stating, he "could no longer endure sharing want with us" (Olsen 586) and leaves his family. The mother does her best but it is proving to be too much to handle. She sends Emily to stay with family members, as she is unable to provide Emily with the nurturing she needs as a growing child. She is a young, exhausted, mother who works nights at a diner in order to try and spend time with her daughter. The mother eventually realizes she is unable to provide for her daughter as she does not make enough to support them both. Emily experiences much unhappiness with being apart from her mother. This unhappiness in Emily causes the mother to feel she has failed in having a close family connection with her daughter.Eventually the mother raises the money to bring Emily home. When Emily reaches two years old, she is "old enough for nursery school" (Olsen 587). The mother realizes, when Emily comes up with many excuses to stay home, that there might be something wrong with the nursery school. The mother blames "the fatigue of the long day" (Olsen 587) as the reason she does not immediately realize that "life in the…nurseries…are only parking places for children" (Olsen 587). She has no choice but to leave Emily at the nursery, where the teachers did not care about the safety of the children, while she continues looking for employment. Emily grows older and it becomes more difficult for the mother to care for her. The clinic persuades the mother to send Emily "away to a convalescent home in the country" (Olsen 588) thinking that it would relieve some of the grief Emily is having. The clinic tells the mother that Emily "can have the kind of food and care you can't manage for her" (Olsen 588). The...

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