I Stand Here Ironing Analysis - Freshmen English

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Short Story Essay
There were three things that affected the overall mood of the short story I Stand Here Ironing. The choice of perspective, which was first person, played a major factor. The mood was also influenced by various methods of characterization used by Olsen in the story.  The last thing that affected the mood was different stereotypes that were incorporated into the story. The overall mood of the story was remorseful. The perspective greatly impacted the mood throughout the course of the story. Most of the story happened in the mother’s mind. Even though this doesn’t actually affect the mood of the story, the story would have never made sense without a first person perspective. Also, you can tell her emotions when she has the flashbacks, like when she tells of something she wishes she had done for Emily, you can tell she feels guilty. “What in me demanded this goodness? And what was the cost, the cost to her of such goodness” (Olsen 211). “Twice, only twice, when I had to get up for Susan anyhow, I went in to sit with her” (Olsen 212). This shows that the mother wishes she had been a better parent for Emily. This is how the perspective of the story affected the mood in the short story I Stand Here Ironing.

The different methods of characterization Olsen used to describe her characters also influenced the mood of the story. Emily was described as a dark-haired, thin girl who was reserved and almost never smiled. The mom feels like this is her fault and if she had given the girl more reassurance she would have smiled more and not felt so bad about how she looked. “Months later she told me how she had taken pennies from my purse to buy him candy. ‘Licorice was his favorite and I brought him some every day, but he still liked Jennifer better’n me. Why Mommy” (Olsen 213). The mom felt guilty that she hadn’t encouraged Emily’s talents instead of frowning upon her faults. Most of all, she just wishes she had followed her own maternal instinct instead...
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