I Stand Here Ironing: Accept the Past, Enhance the Future

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All parents dream of giving their children what they were unable to have as a child. However, uncontrollable circumstances have the ability to prevent parents from fulfilling this vision and they are compelled to continue through life with what life has granted them. Life is not predictable and it is filled with twists and turns which we are unable to see. This leads to parents being caught up in other situations; making them blind to what is most important in life. The short story “I Stand Here Ironing” by Tillie Olsen depicts young mothers’ reflection on her life, which is filled with regret and struggle as she tries to raise her daughter. Through elements such as the mothers’ bias point of view, character development and personality; Olsen exposes a young woman’s’ struggle with motherhood. Her strife with guilt, responsibility and burden is contrasted to society’s expectations and ideals of motherhood. The narrator of the short story “I Stand Here Ironing” reflects on the upbringing of her eldest child, Emily. In her point of view she expresses guilt and regret on the way she raised her daughter and looks to the past to gain an understanding of how history has shaped who Emily has grown to be. The narrator has a negative perspective on her parenting skills and blames it on the fact that she did not have the opportunity to pause, analyze the situation and create the best course of action through barriers which she faces as a young mother. The reflection upon Emily’s childhood is very honest, as she even admits that she would leave Emily home alone for hours when she was young. The author is exposing the mothers’ thoughts, and thoughts are always the truth. However, the honest thoughts express the narrators’ guilt and regret, which creates potential for her to be unreliable. The mother may be leaving out important details or withholding information from the past so she does not feel as much guilt. The mother repeats herself, saying that “she was a beautiful...
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