Raising Emily

Essay by AnonymousPenguinCollege, Undergraduate June 2012

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Raising Emily

"I Stand Here Ironing" by Tillie Olsen is a short story about a mother struggling to raise her oldest daughter during the Great Depression. The story portrays the regret a mother feels about not spending enough time with her daughter because she is too busy working to keep her family together. The mother feels she has failed in raising her oldest daughter, Emily. The choices the mother makes in trying to provide a healthy family environment and suitable living arrangements results in building a wall between her and her oldest daughter Emily. If only the mother had made different choices while trying to provide for her daughter, Emily's life would have been better.

The mother is nineteen during the time of the Great Depression and working or looking for work occupies most of her time. The mother expresses regret at some of the choices she made with her daughter such as "when she was eight months old I had to leave her daytimes with the woman downstairs to whom she was no miracle at all."

(Olsen 586). The mother feels guilty at having to leave her child at home while she goes to work and leaving her child with someone who is not suitable for the task can add a sense of fear as well. Before Emily was a year old, her father left a note stating, he "could no longer endure sharing want with us" (Olsen 586) and leaves his family. The mother does her best but it is proving to be too much to handle. She sends Emily to stay with family members, as she is unable to provide Emily with the nurturing she needs as a growing child. She is a young, exhausted, mother who works nights at a diner in order...