top-rated free essay

I Stand Here Ironing

By moonhealer1 May 30, 2013 570 Words
A Theme is Controlled Though the Setting and the Atmosphere

In the short story “I Stand Here Ironing” by Tillie Olsen there is an atmosphere which has an overwhelming feeling of torment and a sense of regret. Taking place during the 1930s and 1940s a single mother has to cope with the Great Depression, WWII, and the feminist movement of the 1950s while raising her first born daughter Emily. A conflict is created by the lack of understanding the single teenage mother has for raising her first child. The theme that arises from this story is that to what extent can a mother be held responsible for her child’s problems, and that society must take some responsibility. “She is a child of her age, of depression, of war, of fear.” This quotation appears at the end of the second-to-last paragraph, which is preceded by the narrator’s exhortation regarding Emily to “Let her be.” The narrator says this because she does not take full responsibility for the outcome of Emily’s life. The Great Depression had left its mark, creating massive poverty and unemployment. Being unemployed and without any financial relief the narrator is left to face the world alone This meant Emily was to face her own world alone for most of her childhood while her mother struggled to keep a job. The war created fear in America, even with a victory of WWII the proceeding Cold War only made it worse. The narrator feels somewhat cheated that the world Emily was raised in was a cruel and harsh one. Though the narrator blames society and the world for the way Emily is she also blames herself. She takes responsibility for some of the things that had gone wrong in Emily’s life, but tells herself that she had no choice but to work late hours and lose her time with Emily. Through all this Emily grew up to be gloomy with a lack of popularity, and low self-esteem. The narrator though chooses to describe Emily as a sensitive, thoughtful, and selfless individual who has survived through a terrible ordeal. Emily is blind to anything positive about herself; instead she chooses to hide in the shadow of her younger sister Susan. Who in Emily’s eyes is everything she is not, this creates a sad and depressing atmosphere for Emily. The narrator sees a spark of hope though in her youngest child Ronnie, she feels that see can write her wrongs in him and fix what she has broken in herself. With Emily grown up she doesn’t see any opportunity to fix what is wrong, though she also releases that she must let Emily be. Even though Emily has had a grim life there is still hope from all that has happened, Emily has gifts, which she can use to bring the better out in herself. In the ending paragraph the author feels resentment and cold for everything that has happened to Emily, but she also sees a glimmer of hope in her future. The atmosphere and setting have contributed a lot to the theme of the story. They have created a deeper sense in the raising of a child on your own. This story doesn’t hide the pain a mother gave her child or the pain the child caused the mother, it lets people see things in a different light, a light in which is dim and gloomy.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • I Stand Here Ironing

    ...Wendy Ellison Scott Vaughn ENGL 3150 I Stand Here Ironing Motherhood is filled with great joy, but there are many challenges along the way that can be rewarding and damaging to both mother and child. Tillie Olsen gives us a look into the hardships that poverty and absence caused a young family in I Stand Here Ironing. All parents want be...

    Read More
  • I Stand Here Ironing Essay

    ...Joe Sugg Essay – ​ I Stand Here Ironing AP English 4 1-17-15 Essay Prompt Using the short story ​ I Stand Here Ironing​ , write an essay in which you analyze the narrative techniques and other resources of language Olsen uses to characterize the mother and the mother’s attitudes toward her daughter. In addition to the text, conside...

    Read More
  • I Stand Here Ironing Notes

    ...Reading Log Summary: "I stand here ironing" is about a mother reflecting on the past she shared with her daughter Emily. Their life consisted of many unfortunate events beginning with Emily's father abandoning them at a very young age. The mother couldn't afford to spend much time with her to provide enough love and affection as she struggled...

    Read More
  • I Stand Here Ironing

    ...The point of view and narrative structure of I Stand Here Ironing, by Tillie Olson, completely affects the theme of the story in many ways. The theme of the story is the powerful bond between mother and daughter. The point of view would have been less personal if it had been changed. The narrative structure consists of flashbacks, which are very...

    Read More
  • I Stand Here Ironing

    ...A good example of Modernism is a short story called "I Stand Here Ironing" by Tillie Olsen. This story not only portrays gender roles but also family roles. Here the narrator is a mother giving the reader a glimpse into her life, choices she made as a mother, and being a single parent. Through her defense of her situation, she exposes to the ...

    Read More
  • I Stand Here Ironing

    ..."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 elem...

    Read More
  • I Stand Here Ironing

    ...my paper, I chose to write about the short story, “I Stand Here Ironing,” by Tillie Olsen. In the story, a mother of a nineteen-year-old girl named Emily is ironing some clothes, as she is pondering a recent message she received from one of Emily’s counselors or teachers; a message of concerns with wanting to help her daughter. The mother ...

    Read More
  • I Stand Here Ironing

    ...“I Stand Here Ironing” Tillie Olsen's I Stand Here Ironing addresses the issue of a mother's guilt over how her child turns out and develops into a grown woman. Although she blames herself for the daughter's problems, is it really her fault? While this short story is obviously about the mousy daughter, the mother often mentions how she ...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.