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I Stand here Ironing by Tillie Olsen
Transcript of I Stand here Ironing by Tillie Olsen
by Tillie Olsen Charlie Carrol
Mohammed Daas Plot The narrator is the mom of a girl named Emily.
The mom gets a phone call one day from what seems to be a counselor and the "counselor" asks questions about Emily & her life.
As the mom is ironing, she tells the story of her trying to raise Emily without much experience an many hardships during that time. It is assumed that Emily needs a lot of attention because of her mental and physical problems. When Emily was only 8 months old, her father left her, and the mom was left alone to work and take care of Emily at the same time. The mom soon gets remarried and has more kids. As time goes by, the mom must send Emily to a convalescent home where she was deeply unhappy. The only place Emily felt comfortable was on stage, where she was a comedian. Setting Current: 1950's Emily's Childhood: 1930's Great Depression: her mother couldn't "afford for her the soil of easy growth" A lot of the story takes place at their family home.
A portion of the story takes place at the convalescent home where Emily was staying at for a portion of time Tone Regretful Throughout the entire story, the mom is basically telling the counselor how she would have done things differently as a parent.
"Those were the only times of peaceful companionship between her and Susan. I have edged away from it, that poisonous feeling between them, that terrible balancing of hurts and needs I had to do between the two, and did so badly, those early years." Harsh Harsh tone was also used throughout the story to give a better feeling of the hardships the family went through. Rhetorical Devices Asyndeton
• Tillie olsen uses asyndeton many times throughout the story
• This gives the story more tone and adds a dramatic effect
• “I think of our others in their three-, four-year-oldness – the explosions, the tempers, the denunciations, the demands – and I feel suddenly ill.”
• The narrator is talking about how her daughter is unlike other children and is never demanding.
• Listing all those traits in that matter makes it more dramatic
• She also uses polysyndeton many times
• By using devices such as asyndeton and polysyndeton, she makes the reader feel as though they are speaking to her in person because of how it’s written
• “I see pictures on the society page of sleek young women planning affairs to raise money for it, or dancing at the affairs, or decorating Easter eggs or filling Christmas stockings for the children.”
• rhetorical questions are seen throughout this story as well
• she doesn’t really use them in this story for the purpose of persuasion, but rather to make a point of why she is doing something
• “The old man living in the back once said in a gentle way: “you should smile at Emily more when you look at her.” What was in my face when I looked at her? I loved her. There were all the acts of love.”
• In this line she is asking herself what impression does she give her daughter.
• Its rhetorical because she’s using it to counter what the old man is saying by answering the question saying that she does show her love
• Using this device can add drama to the story and tone
• The rhetorical device used the most in this story is anaphora
• Anaphora is the repetition of words at the beginning of clauses or sentences
• “She always had a reason why we should stay home. Momma, you look sick. Momma, I feel sick. Momma, the teachers aren’t there today, they’re sick. Momma, we can’t go, there was a fire there last night. Momma, it’s a holiday today, no school, they told me.
• By repeating the word Momma in every sentence in this line, it gives the story more tone and feel
• The use of anaphora in this story gives it more tone, drama, and even suspense at times
The point of view of this story is extremely important. It is written from the mother’s perspective, which gives the reader a better idea of how she sees her daughter.
•Having it written this way, the reader gets a better idea of the relationship between the mother and daughter. It shows us how independent Emily became over the years. “She had to help be a mother, and housekeeper, and shopper”
•Because the mother is the narrator, the reader can understand by the way she tells the story that she has regrets about the relationship between herself and Emily.
•Having the story written from any other point of view the reader would not have gotten as clear of a picture of their relationship.
•For example when the narrator sees her daughter for the first time in years and instead of being ecstatic, says “All the baby loveliness gone.” POINT OF VIEW CHARACTERIZATION
•The most characterized person in the story would be the daughter. Her mother describes her personality and how it changes throughout the entire story. Comments such as “She blew shining bubbles of sound,” show the reader a happy baby in the beginning. Later in the story comments such as “She does not smile easily,” inform the reader of a change in the daughter’s personality over time. The only way we know Emily is through the way her mother describes her.
•The only other characterized person in the story is the mother. From the beginning she gives the reader the impression that she is not a dedicated parent. She sent her daughter away 3 times. The mother admitted at one point in the story “I hardly knew her.” Later in the story the reader can infer that the mother has many regrets in the relationship between her and her daughter. She talks about all of the things that she put her daughter through and that she is unable to own up to it. This establishes that she knows she was “a distracted mother,” and wishes she hadn’t been one. In the story “I Stand Here Ironing,” the relationship between a mother and a daughter is explored deeper. The circumstance the narrator is in makes it hard for a mother to form a deeper relationship with Emily. Society, financial needs, and absences of her father puts more stress onto the mother. She has many other situations to deal on top of meeting her children’s need. It shows that although the relationship between the narrator and Emily is not on a deeper level, part of it is not the narrators fault because the situation they are in. Because the mother is trying to meet the needs of her child, Emily; she often has to send her away so someone else will take care of her. This contributes significantly in the development of Emily. She has always grown up without a father because he left, but often grew up without her mother too. She needed to be cared for and based on the circumstances Emily’s mother was in she could not be cared for properly. This affects her development in a big way which is why her mother has to live with the guilt of sending her away. She had to do what is best for her kids and the financial situation she was in but it took a negative affect on her children. Her mother does not often get the rewarding experiences a parent should get like leaving behind a legacy because it is hard for her to make it a better life for Emily than she had. She does not get to watch her daughter grow up as much and be there for everything because she is gone so often. This story explores a mother-daughter relationship but that’s not on how situations can play and affect on the bonds between the two.
Imagery ties well into the theme. Absence, lack of support, and guilt are major themes in “I Stand Here Ironing”. Every time her mother goes to visit Emily from where she currently is staying it describes her changes. “She stayed skeleton thin…” (Olsen 283). This contributes to the guilt because not only is she not as healthy as she should be, when she sees her daughter change it reminds her of how she had not been there to see the change and makes her guilt increase. She describes her wonderful she was as a baby and how much she loved her but the situation they are in takes a toll not only emotionally, but physically as well. She also describes her other child Susan and compares how different they looked. This has to do with the fact that Emily was being sent away and Susan never had to be. She also describes how Susan was “everything in appearance and manner, Emily was not” (Olsen 285). This description shows how Emily’s fortune was not as lucky as Susan because she was born at a different and more stable time which helps her development growing up better. Imagery illustrates the time, situation, and struggles Emily faces which go in direct correlation to the theme. Imagery Theme