Loading...

“I Stand Here Ironing”: A Look at the Hardships Faced by Women in the Great Depression

1. Introduction

The short story, “I Stand Here Ironing” by T. Olsen, portrays hardship and low status of women in society, poverty and realities of working poor women. The story is set in the Great Depression era and is narrated by a mother who is ironing clothes while thinking about her first-born daughter Emily. The mother reflects on her own life and how it has influenced Emily’s life. The mother is struggling with her own sense of guilt and inadequacy as a mother. She feels she has not been able to provide her daughter with the love and care she needs.

2. Brief summary of “I Stand Here Ironing”

The story is set during the Great Depression and begins with the narrator, a mother, ironing clothes while thinking about her first-born daughter Emily. The mother reflects on her own life and how it has influenced Emily’s life. The mother is struggling with her own sense of guilt and inadequacy as a mother. She feels she has not been able to provide her daughter with the love and care she needs.

The story then goes on to describe the difficulties the family has faced due to poverty and the lack of support from the father. The mother describes how she has had to work long hours to support the family and has often had to leave Emily in the care of her grandparents or other relatives. As a result, Emily has often felt neglected and unloved.

The story ends with the mother reflecting on Emily’s current situation. She is now a teenager and is having difficulty at school. The mother feels guilty that she has not been able to do more for her daughter but also recognizes that there are some things that are out of her control.

3. Literary analysis of the short story

“I Stand Here Ironing” is a short story that was written by Tillie Olsen in 1961. It tells the story of a mother reflecting on her life and how it has impacted her daughter’s life. The story is set during the Great Depression and explores themes of poverty, neglect, motherhood, and relationships.

One of the major themes in the story is the lack of opportunity for women during this time period. The narrator is a woman who is forced to work long hours to support her family. As a result, she often has to leave her daughter in the care of others which leads to feelings of neglect from Emily. This theme is further explored through the relationship between the mother and father in the story. The father is absent for much of Emily’s life and does not provide financial or emotional support to the family. This leaves the burden of support squarely on the shoulders of the mother which further highlights the inequality between men and women during this time period.

Another theme that is explored in “I Stand Here Ironing” is parental guilt and responsibility. The narrator feels guilty that she was not able to do more for her daughter but also recognizes that there are some things that are out of her control. This theme speaks to larger issues about parenting and societal expectations about mothers during this time period. There was a lot of pressure on mothers to be perfect and many felt they were not living up to these standards. This theme resonates with many readers who can relate to feelings of guilt or inadequacy as parents themselves.

4. Themes and motifs in “I Stand Here Ironing”

There are several themes and motifs present in “I Stand Here Ironing.” One of the major themes is the lack of opportunity for women during this time period. This theme is explored through the narrator’s position as a working mother and the father’s absence from the family. The story also explores themes of neglect, poverty, and motherhood.

One of the major motifs in the story is ironing. The story opens with the narrator ironing clothes while thinking about her daughter. The act of ironing is a symbol of the mother’s hard work and dedication to her family. It also represents the ways in which she has had to sacrifice her own needs for the sake of her daughter.

5. Olsen’s writing style

Olsen’s writing style is characterized by its simplicity and straightforwardness. She uses short, declarative sentences to convey the thoughts and emotions of the narrator. This creates a sense of intimacy between the reader and narrator as we are privy to the mother’s innermost thoughts and feelings.

6. Conclusion

“I Stand Here Ironing” is a short story that tells the story of a mother reflecting on her life and how it has impacted her daughter’s life. The story is set during the Great Depression and explores themes of poverty, neglect, motherhood, and relationships. The story highlights the difficulties faced by women during this time period and speaks to larger issues about parenting and societal expectations about mothers.

FAQ

The story's main theme is a mother's regrets over her parenting choices and her daughter's resulting struggles in life.

The author develops this theme through the protagonist's thoughts and actions while she irons.

The protagonist is motivated to iron because it is a way to take care of her daughter and make her presentable to the world.

The act of ironing relates to the story's themes because it is a way for the protagonist to try to make things better for her daughter, but it also symbolizes the ways in which she has failed as a mother.

We learn about the protagonist through her thoughts and actions while she irons that she is full of regret over her parenting choices and that she feels like she has failed her daughter.

Tillie Olsen uses symbols in "I Stand Here Ironing" to represent the mother's regrets and the daughter's struggles.

The significance of setting in "I Stand Here Ironing" is that it allows us to see how the protagonist's environment affects her thoughts and actions, and how it contributes to the story's themes.

Cite this assignment

Free Essay Samples (July 4, 2022) “I Stand Here Ironing”: A Look at the Hardships Faced by Women in the Great Depression. Retrieved from https://essayholic.com/i-stand-here-ironing-a-look-at-the-hardships-faced-by-women-in-the-great-depression/.
"“I Stand Here Ironing”: A Look at the Hardships Faced by Women in the Great Depression." Free Essay Samples - July 4, 2022, https://essayholic.com/i-stand-here-ironing-a-look-at-the-hardships-faced-by-women-in-the-great-depression/
Free Essay Samples June 23, 2022 “I Stand Here Ironing”: A Look at the Hardships Faced by Women in the Great Depression., viewed July 4, 2022,<https://essayholic.com/i-stand-here-ironing-a-look-at-the-hardships-faced-by-women-in-the-great-depression/>
Free Essay Samples - “I Stand Here Ironing”: A Look at the Hardships Faced by Women in the Great Depression. [Internet]. [Accessed July 4, 2022]. Available from: https://essayholic.com/i-stand-here-ironing-a-look-at-the-hardships-faced-by-women-in-the-great-depression/
"“I Stand Here Ironing”: A Look at the Hardships Faced by Women in the Great Depression." Free Essay Samples - Accessed July 4, 2022. https://essayholic.com/i-stand-here-ironing-a-look-at-the-hardships-faced-by-women-in-the-great-depression/
"“I Stand Here Ironing”: A Look at the Hardships Faced by Women in the Great Depression." Free Essay Samples [Online]. Available: https://essayholic.com/i-stand-here-ironing-a-look-at-the-hardships-faced-by-women-in-the-great-depression/. [Accessed: July 4, 2022]

More Related papers

Top