Analysis of 'I Stand Here Ironing' by Tillie Olsen

Essay by nicky19University, Bachelor'sA+, March 2004

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I found the theme of "I Stand Here Ironing" to basically be Emily's mothers' responsibility for Emily's upbringing against what should be society's responsibility, or what is thought to be the society's responsibility. I believe that society shouldn't always be held responsible for how someone has been brought up. Was it only her mothers' fault or that of society as well, that Emily had such a troubled life and continued to experience difficulties as an adult. When Emily was sent away to the home, they hadn't cared for her properly either. I don't believe that anyone has the ability to be happy when they aren't allowed to love. There is no room for any relationships and friendships to begin. The story was written in both the first person and third person. It seemed to me as if the mother can't see how badly Emily was being raised.

After getting further into the story, it looked like Emily's mother did a better job of taking care of and raising her other children, but what about Emily?

The mother's pain is obvious from the beginning of the story. She realized that she could have done a better job, had it not been for the circumstances and life events which occurred following Emily's birth. For example, the father left at the very beginning of Emily's life. He left the note which said he "could no longer endure sharing want with us." The mother does go back and forth through the story with "ironing" as the metaphor. It was just a way to cover up for the time when she wanted and needed to just think and go over what had happened and what had gone so wrong. It sounded as if she was just living...