What exactly constitutes a perfect family? Eternal love of parents and siblings? The short stories, “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker and “I Stand Here Ironing” by Tillie Olsen reveal the intricate relationship between the mother and the daughter. In “Everyday Use”, Walker initiates the story with the narrator waiting for her daughter Dee’s visit. When Dee arrives, she tells her mother that she changes her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo and insists of taking the quilt. The narrator refuses to let Dee take the quilt because the quilt belong to her other daughter, Maggie. In Tillie Olsen’s “I Stand Here Ironing”, the narrator is having a conversation with the teacher of her daughter Emily. As the narrator is ironing, she thinks back over her life and Emily’s. When Emily was an infant, her husband abandon the family and all of the responsibility falls on her shoulder. The narrator has no choice but to leave her daughter in the care of a neighbor, nursery school and a convalescent facility. The narrator feels guilty about her absence in Emily’s childhood but she hopes Emily able to live a life for herself. Both authors depict the construction of family despite employ different setting and various symbols.
Alice Walker in her story “Everyday Use” distinguish the financial condition between the narrator and her well educated daughter Dee. The author mentions that the narrator and Maggie live in a house where “…there are no real windows, just some holes cut in the sides, like the portholes in a ship… This house is in a pasture, too” (338). Upon Dee’s arrival at the house, she was in a car (339). Dee is well-educated and she uses her knowledge to make herself look superior. The educated versus the uneducated illustrates the tension bet...
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...exists a distance between the narrator and her daughter Dee due to different levels of education. They were unable to communicate with each other because they were not on the same level. The narrator in “I Stand Here Ironing” also has a complex relationship with her daughter Emily as she has been absent from Emily’s life and development. Although there are some conflicts between the mother- daughter relationship, both Emily and Dee continues to flourish.
The idea of perfect family captivate ones’ attention even though it doesn’t exist. There is always a conflict within a family. Both Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” and Tillie Olsen’s “I Stand Here Ironing” substantiate the idea by depicting the discord in the mother- daughter relationship. Through the use of symbolism and setting, Walker and Olsen demonstrates that both mother love their daughter but tensions remain.
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