The narrator stands working at her ironing board, responding mentally to a request Tillie Olsen was a high school dropout, who raised four children and. I stand here ironing is a personal and rich piece of literature owing to the fact that its subject matters have not been presented as black or white. “I Stand Here Ironing” is a short story by Tillie Olsen that was first published in See a complete list of the characters in “I Stand Here Ironing” and in- depth.

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In such circumstances, all one can do is try and cope with the challenges rather than resist them and deal with the consequences later.

I Stand Here Ironing [FREE Text Sample!]

Mother daughter conflicts or parent to child conflicts are also an important theme in the book. In addition, Olsen was left by her spouse. First, she had to abandon the plans that she had for her education. Though her body of work is small, Tillie Olsen’s unique perceptiveness and style have made her an important American writer. The girl is a natural performer, a wonderful comedienne, who now is in demand throughout the city and state.

Stereotypical images of happy American families were challenged through this short story and therefore contributed to an understanding of motherhood as being an immensely personal and unique experience to all individuals.

I Stand Here Ironing

I stand here ironing fuol a story that tackles numerous societal problems including mother daughter conflicts, gender roles, diligence, personal effects of national economic struggles and the challenges of single parenthood.

And then, she recalls, out of nowhere Emily won first prize in her school amateur show. Because of the nature of her background, she was not in a position to stand up for her rights. The author was bold enough to present a realistic picture devoid of any alterations. However, Olsten persisted through all these problems. Suddenly, Emily appears on the scene.

Reference Kelly, Joseph, ed. She will find her way. Her involvement in these movements was therefore a way of protecting her interests as a working class mother and member of an exploited class. Emily longs to enjoy a normal life but may feel that too much has been said and done to allow her this Olsen, 8.


Olsen also got involved in communist centered movements such as the Warehouse union and the Young communist league. As one reads through the story, one realizes that Olsen was a victim of circumstance. Throughout the book, one cannot help but wonder what would have happened to Emily if her father had been around. Olsen had been abandoned and had to find a way of coping with poverty. The issue of persistence in the face of turmoil is also an important theme in the short story.

It did not matter that both these adults were responsible for bringing Emily to the world; it was a woman who was left to handle the responsibility alone.

This relationship between mother and daughter is therefore characterized by continual reflection and bitterness over the past and what could have been done. This story therefore places the mother daughter conflicts in perspective by illustrating the origin of these problems. Furthermore, she highlights how difficult Emily herself was.

Another emerging theme in the story is the personal effects of national economic downfall. Olsen published Yonnondio, an unfinished short novel that she indicates “was begun in in Faribault, Minnesota, when the author was nineteen, and worked on intermittently into or perhaps Her mother also goes through numerous reflections on the past and realizes that she could have offered her daughter a better life if she had been more knowledgeable or if she had been wiser.

Olsen found it hard to make end meets at such difficult times. In fact, at the beginning of the narrative when Olsen receives a call from an external party about Emily needing help, she starts to wonder what the problem was and what she could have done to prevent those problems.

She’s a youngster who needs help. The fact that fll family members were refugees from Russia did not help either because it was this difficult situation that caused them to resort to child labor from their daughter in order to make ends meet.

The relationship between mother and daughter in this narrative is quite complex thus leading to the negative feelings ironint Emily has towards Olsen. Primary Source Tell Me a Riddle. The unfairness and difficulties inherent in the class system were a harsh reality to the young Olsen.

In this regard, there was a need to highlight the plight of women who were confronted with unfair situations. When she was in her mid-forties, she returned to writing regularly.


Emily is overwhelmed by her past which was filled with a lack of involvement by her mother and also lack of affection from the same individual. Indeed the story of Olsen was one that was rarely told in fictional tales at the time. Due to the wages of loss, poverty and dislocation, a wall has grown up between mother and daughter–she has always wanted to love the sickly, awkward, stiff, and isolated girl, but has not been able to penetrate the gillie.

Life may sometimes be determined by factors that cannot be controlled by specific individuals. Providing for her child on her own made it quite tricky to Olsen so she had to fupl Emily to relatives Olsen, 6.

The poor and strained relationship between this mother and daughter therefore illustrates a deep history between these two individuals. Olsen wishes that she was in a position to give her daughter a better life than the one she lived when she was young. All in all, it can be said that the fuol was responsible for bringing out a fresh perspective on motherhood. Tilli Olsen thinks about her early life with young Emily, she creates an image of very difficult circumstances. The narrator stands working txet her ironing board, responding mentally to a request someone a teacher?

This story shows that when relationships do tilkie look as good in the present, then they have probably been brought on by a series of past incidences and events. This illustrates that American society at that time was quite tolerant of runaway fathers who do not take responsibility for what they had done.

This put Olsen at a serious disadvantage because the lack of education meant minimal access to great economic opportunities and hence a life of poverty Olen, 4. At the tender age of sixteen, Olsten could no longer go to school because her family needed her to make economic contributions to their income.

Conclusion I stand here ironing is a personal and rich piece of literature stane to the fact that its subject matters have not been presented as black or white; they each have their own flaws and inadequacies.