The First-Person Narrative in I Stand Here Ironing by Tillie Olsen

Topics: Narrative, Style, Fiction Pages: 1 (389 words) Published: November 2, 2008
First of all, the author enables the reader to identify with the narrator by using the literary technique of a first-person narration. This form often includes an interior monologue. Especially this extract of Tillie Olsen’s “I stand here ironing” is partly an interior monologue. The first-person narrator, a mum of five children, thinks about someone’s offer of help for her oldest daughter. This means the reader gets to know her thoughts and is able to share her feelings, perceptions and reflections. This means that you deal with a limited form of narration. The mum is a participant in the events she is recounting while ironing. Only the mum’s perspective is adopted, since it presents the action through the eyes of her character only. The reader gets learns about her beloved oldest daughter, Emily, “who was a miracle to her”, growing up. Being nineteen in the “pre-relief, pre-WPA world of depression” and left alone by her husband, her mum had to give her to a neighbor as couldn’t look after her herself. The selected information the reader gets draws attention to the mum’s social conflict of the wish to be with her daughter on the one hand and the urgent need to work or find work on the other. It puts emphasis on her interest point of view, her problems with that situation. Furthermore the consideration of narrated events in terms of her interest most evokes the reader’s compassion and creates his impression of being in the story. The reader feels particularly drawn to the narrator and his judgment might be influenced by her thoughts. He can feel her bitterness and sadness about the past, the time she couldn’t spent with Emily by the given circumstances. He is confronted with her helplessness today to find access, to understand her as there was “all that life that happened outside of [her]”. It might also make him compare his own life to hers. To take all this in consideration, the stylistic device of a first-person narration creates meaning in “I stand here...
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