Mother-Daughter Relationship "I Stand Here Ironing" Analytical Essay

Mother-Daughter Relationship "I Stand Here Ironing"
An analytical look at the mother-daughter relationship in Tillie Olsen's "I Stand Here Ironing".
# 154004 | 859 words | 0 sources | 2008 | US
Published on Sep 01, 2014 in Literature (American)

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From the Paper:

"Tillie Olsen's "I Stand Here Ironing" is a compelling story about a mother's relationship with her daughter. In addition to her daughter's problems, the mother has her own problems that she must work out before she can help her daughter. This shapes the daughter's and the mother's lives, as well as their relationship. Olsen shows this relationship through character, conflict, and point of view.
"A lot can be learned about the relationship simply by looking at the two main characters--the mother and daughter. The mother had her daughter Emily at the young age of nineteen. She was busy most of Emily's babyhood. When Emily was eight months old, her father left, leaving her mother to work for their survival. The mother tried to do her best, but there were many times when she didn't pay enough attention to her daughter as we see when she says, "But the seeing eyes were few or nonexistent. Including mine" (546). She realizes this later in life, and tries to excuse it by showing how much she did care, saying, "I nursed her...I nursed all the children, but with her, with all the fierce rigidity of first motherhood, I did like the books then said...Why do I put that first? I do not even know if it matters, or if it explains anything" (546-547). She defends her love throughout the story, saying things like "I loved her. There were all the acts of love" (548).
"Emily's character is one that also must be looked at. From the beginning, Emily was different than her siblings. She was "the first and only one of [the] five that was beautiful at birth" (546). Unlike the "others in their [preschool age, she did not have] the explosions, the tempers, the denunciations, [and] the demands" (548). Too much of Emily's childhood was spent away from home--with her father's family, at the convalescent home. Throughout the story, Emily is seen as a sickly girl. When she was a baby, "...she got chicken pox...[which left her] looking...thin, and dressed in a shoddy red that yellowed her skin and glared at the pockmarks" (547), and when she was a little older "she was delirious with the fever that comes before red measles..[and] she did not get well. She stayed skeleton thin..." (548).
"One thing that is unique to Emily's character is her bitterness towards her younger sister Susan. Susan was the first to occupy the mother's love, and Emily was not happy with this. When Susan was born, Emily got the measles and her mother couldn't care for her. Emily was sent away to a convalescent home to receive " [her mother] couldn't manage for her..." (549). In young Emily's eyes, Susan could have been the reason for her illness and being sent away."

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