“I STAND HERE IRONING” AT A GLANCE
The following paper states the summarized plot of “I stand Here Ironing” and also analyzes the character of the narrator as a good mother. This short yet deep story was written by Tillie Olsen in the year 1961. The story commenced with the thinking of narrator while ironing, and her mind is wandering toward the request she presumably received from a teacher of her daughter Emily. Through her reflection narrator travels in her past; and thinks about the era when her daughter born. Evidently, the narrator is a remarried woman that has an elder daughter Emily from her first husband, and as the story goes on, the audiences become aware that from her second marriage she has four more children. The reflections of narrator’s past reveal that Emily faced a hard time due to the absence of her father and the Great Depression and therefore the narrator is not very sure about her talents.
Narrator was the single mother before getting remarried, and therefore she had to leave the Emily to the neighbors to go to her work. At the age of two, narrator sends Emily to the nursery where the conditions and atmosphere were awful. Narrator’s retrospect shows that eventually she got married again and when she gives birth to another daughter, Emily catches the measles and therefore sent to convalescent. Later on, the narrator comes to know the horrible situation of that convalescent. This up and down of life made the Emily very complicated and unsociable. To pass the time in school, she started to mimic the people. She was a talented girl, and because of that, she is going to perform in his school as a comedian. Her performance was admirable that amazes the narrator as she was dubious about her skills.
If one analyzes the story consciously they will find out that narrator is a caring, hard working mother and has a great admiration for her daughter. Throughout the retrospect narrator takes delight in recalling the beautiful memories of her elder daughter Emily. She is a caring mother as she remembers each and every little detail about Emily and she recalls that when Emily was a little one she loved the textures, light, music and colors. Story says that “she was a beautiful baby. She blew shining bubbles of sound. She loved motion, loved light, loved color and music and textures. She was a miracle to me.” (Olsen, 1) This piece of memory and monologue of narrator shows a mother that cares for daughter a lot and notices even little things about their beloved child.
Moreover, the memories of narrator assert that she is a hard working mother and she went through very tough times to eke a better life for her daughter. The tragedy of narrators implies that she did not have any choice but to stay stronger, and in due course of stand erect in the harsh living conditions she learns to repress the true feelings and to neglect the outcomes. Due to the economic situation and absence of narrator’s husband; it was complicated for the mother and daughter to survive in the dominant male society where men are supposed to earn, and females are subject to supervise the domestic affairs. But in the life of narrator; she has to play the role of male and female altogether; that gradually made her to work hard and because of her hard work she even ignores her elder daughter. The narrator states her hard working days by reflecting that “I was nineteen. It was the pre-relief, pre-WPA world of the depression. I would start running as soon as I got off the streetcar, running up the stairs, the place smelling sour, and awake or asleep to startle awake, when she saw me she would break into a clogged weeping that could not be comforted, a weeping I can hear yet.” (Olsen, 1) This memory of narrator portrays the absolute need of her hard working as well as the helplessness of both of mother and daughter.
Throughout the story it is also evident that narrator has a hidden admiration for her elder daughter; and silently appreciates her presence in narrator’s life. Emily shares a special connection with the narrator because she was the firstborn child and always there to silently ease the burden of her mother. Narrator reflects in admiration that because of her hardships her eldest daughter learns to suppress her feelings and acted like a grown up even in her early years. She recalls that Emily never cried in school like other kids and when she scared of bully she just fabricated different excuses to stay away from school and never told the truth to her mother to save her from stress. She recalls that “She (Emily) always had a reason why we should stay home.” (Olsen 2) And furthermore she remembers that despite being a child Emily always tried to find an excuse “But never a direct protest, never rebellion.” (Olsen, 2) by thinking all of her daughter’s sacrifices and devotion the narrator feels sick in guts and regrets to demand so much goodness from a little girl.
This admiration makes the narrator to appreciate and admire the talent of her daughter and respects her stability that despite all hinders she made her place and at this point, she narrates the scenario of the stage where Emily performs and gets loads of praises. The narrator says with enthusiasm of a mother that “You must have seen it in her pantomimes, you spoke of her rare gift for comedy on the stage that arouses laughter out of the audience so dear they applaud and applaud and do not want to let her go.” (Olsen. 2) The backdrop of the narration affirms that narrator is a good mother and regardless of facing extreme hardship in her life she secretly cares and admires her daughter and secretively grateful for her presence in her life. All these incidents and inner feelings of narrator affirm that she admires her daughter a lot. The above given analysis affirms that narrator is a good mother because she is caring, hardworking mother and admires her daughter.