Themes Illustrated In Tillie Olsen's I Stand Here Ironing

761 words - 3 pages

The story begins with a sentence “I stand here ironing, and what you asked me moves tormented back and forth with the iron” (Olsen 73). It is unusual that the story starts with a description of the mother ironing. This strategy easily draws readers’ attention and introduces the narrator character to the readers.
“I stand here ironing” is a very straightforward and simple description, but yet it conveys a deeper meaning and draws the readers into the narrative. The mother’s ironing provides the metaphor for the whole story. It acts as a vein circulating the whole structure of the story. It is a great metaphor that helps the readers to interpret the story in different levels and perspectives.
Ironing can be regarded as a kind of women’s domestic work. And in our society it is assumed that ironing the clothes is one of a woman’s responsibilities. The assumption is due to people most likely are programmed by patriarchy. Women are responsible for taking care of the family and doing all the house works. Since the narrator is a single mother in the family, she not only needs to deal with all the house works but also earn a living for her children. It is obvious what she did is already far beyond the “standard” of the society. However she will not be complimented by the society as her hardworking. Even worse, she will be blamed as the cause of the failure of her marriage. The oppression of women in society has never been a secret. The narrator dedicated her life to strive for the social change of a family structure, and the change of women’s role.
While ironing may symbolize women’s domestic work, the act of ironing can also
represent the mothering of children the act of making things ordered and neat. There are plenty of limitations that the narrator experiences: abandonment by her husband, her first motherhood and earning a living for a family. Being a young, non-experienced mother when she gave birth to Emily, she is ambivalent about her parental skills and the influences to Emily’s life. She realizes she could have been a better mother, caring her daughter more and establishing a closer relationship among them. Somehow she feels helpless and she admits...

Find Another Essay On Themes Illustrated in Tillie Olsen's I Stand Here Ironing

The Mother Daughter Relationship in I Stand Here Ironing by Tillie Olsen

915 words - 4 pages The Mother Daughter Relationship in "I Stand Here Ironing" by Tillie Olsen 'I stand here ironing,' a unique phrase uttered by a woman in her conquest of life. It may seem like an unwanted phrase to many, but it has deep meaning behind it. This phrase is almost whispered by the narrator of ?I Stand Here Ironing,? Tillie Olsen, and also by many other mothers going through an important stage in their lives. The stage in life that the mother

Suffering in and Tillie Olsen’s I Stand Here Ironing and James Baldwin’s Sonny’s Blues

1132 words - 5 pages Pain and suffering is what brings these two stories together, “Sonny’s Blue” by James Baldwin and Tillie Olsen’s “I Stand Here Ironing”, both of the narrator describe their feeling towards their love one. Sonny’s Blues is a story about an ambitious musician’s life as it is seen through his older brother’s eyes. The story originates with Sonny’s older brother, who is an Algebra teacher, and finding out that Sonny has been sent to prison due

I Stand Here Ironing

626 words - 3 pages Lisa Cho06/7/14PD:6I Stand Here IroningEvery parent knows how difficult it is to make decisions in the best interest of their children. There is always some doubt in the back of the mind, what if this happens or that happens. Tillie Olsen shows in her story "I Stand Here Ironing" the conflict and the results of one mother's decisions. SHe portrays the mothers confusion and concern for her daughter throughout the story. She also illustrates the

I Stand Here Ironing

645 words - 3 pages A Mother’s Decision In the short story "I Stand Here Ironing" by Tillie Olsen, the reader is introduced to a mother faced with a strong internal conflict involving her eldest daughter Emily. Emily’s mother makes a very meaningful statement at the end of the story. Her statement was "help [Emily] to know that she is more than this dress on the ironing board, helpless before the iron" (Olsen, 582). This statement shows the reader that the mother

I stand here ironing

875 words - 4 pages The short story “I Stand Here Ironing” by Tillie Olsen is an example of a mother daughter struggle. From what I took from the story, the young mom herself had an extremely rough life. She had her daughter Emily at a young age and it did not end up picture perfect like she might have thought it would. Her mother had to work to support them, so she always sent Emily off to be cared by others. Sometimes she was sent far away and for a long period

I Stand Here Ironing

670 words - 3 pages "I Stand Here Ironing", by Tillie Olsen is a short story portraying the life and regret of a young mother struggling to raise her oldest daughter. The mother- daughter relationship is the major part of the story and the attitude of the mother toward her daughter, Emily, and the actual character of the mother are two very important elements. The character of the mother can be said to be strong and persevering, and along with

I Stand Here Ironing

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

Examining Conflict in I Stand Here Ironing

1495 words - 6 pages In the short story "I Stand Here Ironing" by Tillie Olsen the conflict between a mother whose giving is limited by hardships is directly related to her daughter's wrinkled adjustment. Ironing, she reflects upon when she was raising her first-born daughter, Emily. The mother contemplates the consequences of her actions. The mother's life had been interrupted by childbirth, desertion, poverty, numerous jobs, childcare, remarriage, frequent

Untraditional Techniques in I Stand Here Ironing

567 words - 2 pages Untraditional Techniques in I Stand Here Ironing   In "I Stand Here Ironing", Tillie Olsen uses a very untraditional plot to achieve a lasting impression with her readers. Her technique reaches out and grabs you as you read. She accomplishes this by speaking in first person, second person, and third person and by using flashbacks in non-chronological order. These techniques draw you into the plot and make you pay closer attention to

Growing Up in I Stand Here Ironing

1288 words - 5 pages Growing up The oppression of women by society has never been a secret. Many times it has been documented in works of literature, and one classical example of this occurrence is "I Stand Here Ironing" by Tillie Olsen. This story illustrates the consequences of oppression in women's lives. The story leads the reader on an exploratory journey to witness the neglect by Emily's extremely guilty mother. This is described by the children's cry

Parental Detachment in I Stand Here Ironing

986 words - 4 pages Every parent knows how difficult it is to make decisions in the best interest of their children. There is always some doubt in the back of the mind, what if this happens or that happens. Tillie Olsen shows in her story “I Stand Here Ironing” the conflict and the results of one mother’s decisions. She illustrates the back, forth motion of the iron as the back and forth doubts in the mother’s mind. The detachment between mother and daughter in “I

Similar Essays

An Analysis Of The Mother In Tillie Olsen's Story, "I Stand Here Ironing"

1255 words - 5 pages The mother in Tillie Olsen’s story, “I Stand Here Ironing” gives insight into the upbringing of her first child. We see she is guilty of neglect towards Emily and is distressed due to poor decisions that she had made rearing her daughter. The mother reflects on the past and thinks that her actions and “lack of” might have affected Emily. She is so engulfed in “what ifs” and “how could I’s” that she is practically beating herself mentally. Poor

Tillie Olsen's I Stand Here Ironing And Kay Boyle's Astronomers Wife

1220 words - 5 pages There are many different styles of writing a story. A writer can use first, second or third person narration. In addition to this, a writer can write a story that is meant to be read to oneself or out loud. In Tillie Olsen's "I Stand Here Ironing" is written in first person while Kay Boyle's "Astronomer's Wife" is written in third person. Both these stories are ironic while "I Stand Here Ironing" is written in a guilty and reflective tone and is

The Mother In I Stand Here Ironing By Tillie Olsen

1912 words - 8 pages the complexity of humans. Is a perfect mother someone who is overworked and thus absent or someone overbearing and a perfectionist or easily persuaded and thus unfair? In the stories: Two Kinds by Amy Tan, I Stand Here Ironing by Tillie Olsen, and Everyday Use by Alice Walker, the notion of reconciliation between mothers and daughters is explored. Forgiveness made through both daughters and mothers being able to understand and accept the reasoning

Anthusser's Notion Of Interpellation And The Human Subject, With Reference To Tillie Olsen's "I Stand Here Ironing"

1142 words - 5 pages reality. In Tillie Olsen's short fiction story I Stand Here Ironing, the education and the family ISA affect both the mother and the child, and confer upon them ideologies that align with their social standings in the proletariat, or working class of society.