Setting Analysis for I Stand Here Ironing

April 13, 2021 by Essay Writer

The Olsen’s story takes place in a normal setting where our narrator is a mother, ironing, at home, and doing chores. She is laboring in a way all mothers do. As the story progresses, it is revealed that we are in a working-class home. Olsen passes on yearning and love through expressive techniques, for example, utilization of time, continuous flow, and imagery and word usage. The family is affected by an economic poverty after World War II. A mother ironing seems a-bit separated from events such as class struggle, financial improvement, and political. The Great Depression and World War II shows how the world is a violent place. The world can be so cold. It’s a world where folks can’t be trusted with power at hand. In this story, Olsen shows the way of power and representing a normal person living within the struggle.

Food is addressed often in the story. The narrator struggles to provide the basic needs for her daughter. The symbolic value is food and sustenance. Food and nourishment shows the changes within Emily’s life mentally and emotionally. When Emily is born, she is nourished by her mother’s breast milk. She was described as a beautiful child, but when their situation worsen, so does Emily.

The story, I Stand Here Ironing, is symbolic. I sense the narrator doesn’t have much time to stop and think. To pay attention. She’s too busy doing housework and caring for her kids. It begins at the beginning of the story, where the narrator couldn’t provide the ‘key’ to her daughter’s life. ‘There is all that life outside of me, beyond me’ (Olsen). It seems a little unordinary for any mother to say their child has a life ‘outside’ or ‘beyond’ of what she has knowledge of. But learning during Emily’s life, her mother was struggling to make things happen all while not paying attention to her own daughter. The iron symbols the mother attempt to straighten out her feelings about her daughter Emily and herself as a mother. The iron represents the day-to-day task which have took so much of the mother’s time where she couldn’t nurture Emily as she should have. The iron is a symbol of the narator’s thoughts and vulnerability. The story concludes as she rests the iron, she realizes Emily is her own person despite on how she was raised.

Olsen’s ‘I Stand Here Ironing’ leans towards the years of the Great Depression and feminist movement in the 1950s. Without employment help with the financial income the narrator was faced to a struggle all while needing to stay employed to raise her daughter alone. Those years has left an unavoidable impact on her family and her soul. Just like the narrator, Olsen has raised a child alone and been through financial struggles that lead to emotional stress. Several single women, during the depression, struggled with financial stability. Olsen’s story resembles a glimpse into the life of a woman’s experience during the economic poverty. “I Stand Here Ironing” is the somewhat downfall of motherhood, the fear or regret of where mothers have doubts and thoughts on “maybe I should’ve done this or that.” This story is giving the voice on self-doubt and what some mothers felt while stumbling over these challenges.

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