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Examining Conflict in I Stand Here Ironing

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In the short story "I Stand Here Ironing" by Tillie Olsen the conflict between a mother whose giving is limited by hardships is directly related to her daughter's wrinkled adjustment. Ironing, she reflects upon when she was raising her first-born daughter, Emily. The mother contemplates the consequences of her actions. The mother's life had been interrupted by childbirth, desertion, poverty, numerous jobs, childcare, remarriage, frequent relocations, and five children. Her struggling economic situation gave way to little or no opportunity to properly care for and nurture her first-born child. In spite of the attention and love Emily craved and never received, she still survived, and even made strengths, and talents, out of the deprivations she had endured. From the beginning of Emily's life she is separated from those she needed most, and the mother's guilt tears at the seams of a dress barely wrinkled. Emily was only eight months old when her father left her and her mother. He found it easier to leave than to face the responsibilities of his family's needs. Their meager lifestyle and "wants" (Olsen 601) were more than he was ready to face. The mother regrettably left the child with the woman downstairs fro her so she could work to support them both. As her mother said, "She was eight months old I had to leave her daytimes" (601). Eventually it came to a point where Emily had to go to her father's family to live a couple times so her mother could try to stabilize her life. When the child returned home the mother had to place her in nursery school while she worked. The mother didn't want to put her in that school; she hated that nursery school. "It was the only place there was. It was the only way we could be toge... ... middle of paper ... ... Short Stories for Students. Ed. Kathleen Wilson. Vol. 1. Detroit, MI: Gale, 1997. 105-107. Kamel, Rose. Essay on "I Stand Here Ironing." Short Stories for Students. Ed. Kathleen Wilson. Vol. 1. Detroit, MI: Gale, 1997. 103-105. Kloss, Robert. "Balancing the Hurts and the Needs: I Stand Here Ironing." Journal of Evolutionary Psychology. Vol. 15. Nos. 1-2 March 1994: 78-86. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Roger Matuz. Vol. 114. Detroit: Gale Research, 1990. 244-249. Olsen, Tillie. "I Stand Here Ironing." Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Ed. Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2003. 600-605. Piedmont-Marton, Elisabeth. Essay on "I Stand Here Ironing." Short Stories for Students. Ed. Kathleen Wilson. Vol. 1. Detroit, MI: Gale, 1997. 101-103.
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