Symbolism In Emily

720 Words3 Pages
Similar to “they” who lend advice to Emily’s mother, strangers and institutions also pertain to choice. Specifically, Emily’s mother’s decision to repeatedly send Emily away emphasizes the consequences of such choices and the concept that one’s environment may automatically make choices for them. Emily’s mother does not have a choice in where Emily stays, for in order to even remotely provide for Emily, she must find a job and work most of the day. For example, Emily’s mother must leave Emily with an unappreciative neighbor as she “work[s] or look[s] for work” (Olsen 2). This is ironic in the fact that her work simultaneously provides for Emily and puts greater distance between them. Nonetheless, as a consequence of the choices Emily’s mother…show more content…
Symbolism pressures this concept. For one, the iron’s movement epitomizes the changes that occur as time progresses. In a way, Emily’s mother attempts to iron out the wrinkles, and as she does, the audience concentrates on each one – the wrinkles in time. Change, responsibilities, and distractions merge within the symbol of ironing to describe the environment of Emily’s mother and the effect it is on her abilities to be a good mother. The ambiguous “they” simultaneously offers advice to Emily’s mother and personifies cultural expectation. Expectations are the determinants of actions. Furthermore, during Emily’s childhood, the many strangers involved in her life inform her that her actions are powerless against her environment, so she learns to be helpless. Conclusively, Emily’s mother describes Emily as “a child of her age, of depression, of war, of fear” (Olsen 10). The symbols within “I Stand Here Ironing” illuminate the environment of the Great Depression and World War II; the environment makes Emily’s mother’s choices and has a decisive effect on

More about Symbolism In Emily

Open Document