A Woman’s Struggle to Be
“I Stand Here Ironing”, is a short story, written by Tillie Olsen in which the author is able to engage the reader to the plight of a mother who is suffering from depression. It is through the mother’s narration of the story that the reader is pulled into the life of a middle aged woman during the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. The first-person narrative technique permits the development of a very personal interior monologue and the examination of an entire lifetime of events. These reveal the development of the child, Emily, and her relationship to her mother in a way that exposes the mother’s anguish and sadness. The language of the mother in describing the daughter is always loving and tender. She speaks of her as a miracle, beautiful and happy. The simple, direct sentences are appropriate to the interior monologue and reinforce the sincerity and seriousness of the thoughts expressed.
On the surface the narrator is a woman who invites the reader to pity her. At first the unnamed mother is a victim and is unwilling or unable to save herself from her circumstances. If a feminist lens is use to examine the story, the reader is given an opportunity to become familiar with the main character, not only as a one dimensional woman but as a mother who has led a life which has not been easy, but has provided a journey that has given her depth and substance.
In an article review published by Suzanne Schneider, she details what life is like for women who have a full time job and the responsibilities of caring for her children with little to no support. The argument is made that women such as the one in this story have no opportunity for upward mobility because of their circumstances. Ms. Schneider muses over th...
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...rst proposed “I Stand Here Ironing’ is much more than a superficial account of a woman who is a victim of circumstance. It is a literary work that provided the insight of the complex psychic of women struggling with the demands of economic standing, social norms, and how women interact with each other. The role that plays in how women are portrayed in literature are issues that remain current.
Dittermar, Linda. "Comparative Teaching of Literature and Other Arts." The Radical Teacher 33 (1987): n. pag. Jstor. Web.
Puff, Jayme, and Kimberly Renk. "Relationships Among Parents’ Economic Stress, Parenting, and Young Children’s Behavior Problems." Child Psychiatry Hum Dev Child Psychiatry & Human Development 45.6 (2014): 712-27. Web.
Schneider, Suzanne. Rev. of Fonttiers: A Journal of Women Studies. University of Nebraska Press 1979: 70-72. Print.
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