I Stand Here Ironing, an Analysis Essay
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"I Stand Here Ironing" by Tillie Olsen is a short story that talks about a handicapped child. Emily had to struggle a whole lot on her short life, but at the end she proved to be a very strong child. Tillie Olsen's characterization of Emily shows a strong female protagonist who overcomes numerous odds: loneliness, humbleness, vulnerability, and her disability.
The story is based on a child named Emily that has a physical disability. Emily lived in a family of five children. "She always had a reason why we should stay home" (Olsen 601). Emily is lonely. When she was a toddler, she was left in a day care so Emily's mom could bring income to the house. Emily is a child that, as many others, grew up mostly on day care. Emily was…show more content…
She was looking for a way to keep her mom within her reach. Unfortunately her mom had to go to the hospital and have a baby. "Susan telling jokes
and riddles to company for applause while Emily sat silent (to say to me later: that was my riddle, Mother, I told it to Susan)" (Olson 603). Emily was a child that did not have any envy towards her sister Susan, because she was so much different in many aspects. The difference of the age did not interfere. Emily was always willing to play and teach her sister new things. They shared so many things and enjoyed the company of each other. Their mother sometimes would keep Emily home so they could spend time together. Emily would take advantage of her illnesses, so her mom would keep her home.
Emily is very vulnerable mostly because of her appearance. "She tormented herself enough about not looking like the others, there was enough of the unsureness, the having to be conscious of works before you speak, the constant caring-what are they thinking of me? Without having it all magnified by the merciless physical drivers" (Olson 603). Emily is a skinny, fragile, and sick child, and in the outer world, other kids without values would point her out. Emily is always insecure about what she says, or does in front of others. The insecurity of not being able to be her own person is always on her mind.
Emily spends time with her mother at night time. She makes
In Tillie Olsen's "I Stand Here Ironing," the narrator starts out ironing. She is prompted to think about her daughter by someone's request (presumably a teacher's) to discuss ways to help her. The narrator takes a rare, quiet moment while she is ironing to think back over her life and Emily's.
Her reflections begin during the Great Depression, when Emily was born. Eight months later, the father leaves, and the narrator has to seek work while leaving Emily in the care of others. For a brief time, Emily must live with her father's family until the narrator can make enough money to support the two of them. Their lives seem to improve materially when the narrator remarries. But Emily catches the measles around the time that the narrator has another daughter, Susan. Emily spends a few months at a charity-run convalescent home for children.
After changing her son Ronnie's diaper, the narrator goes back to her ironing and continues her musings. During World War II, Emily helps her mother care for a growing household and has trouble keeping up with her studies. Emily's life changes when she puts on a comedy act for a high school talent show. Suddenly she is popular and appears at other schools and venues with her act.
The narrator's reflections are interrupted when Emily returns home. She ends her musings with the hope that the unnamed person who asked about Emily will be able to help Emily build a better life.