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I Stand Here Ironing

Short Story Analysis
by

Chelsea Moore

on 28 February 2011

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Transcript of I Stand Here Ironing

I Stand Here Ironing Plot Structure Point of View Characterization Imagery Language "Let her be. So all that is in her will not bloom... Help make it so there is cause for her to know that she is more than this dress on the ironing board, helpless before the iron." Theme Tone Rhetorical
Devices Motherhood can be difficult, but it is important to help children grow to understand life
Life is lived helplessly "before the iron"
One must take control in order to establish individuality and selfhood
We have the responsibility to help others in their struggle with the fatalism of life Written in first person by the mother
Entire story is a recollection of memories
Mother (narrator) breaks from her thoughts to show what is happening in the present (actions of ironing, Emily runs up stairs, etc.)
Helps give insight into an opressed woman who normally never gets her voice heard
First person POV helps reader connect to the mother emotionally by understanding why she is thinking so much about her role as a mother JEOPARDY
TIME! The story is told chronologically, beginnng with the narrator's daughter's birth and leading to the most important events in her daughter's life. The story is about a mother recalling the facts of her daughter Emily's life. She recalls every moment that was significant to the way Emily is now including many hardships and not so proud moments. The story does not have a high peak. It begins with the narrator talking to possibly a school teacher, counselor, or therapist regarding Emily's "problems." The narrator tells Emily's entire life story occasionally refering back to the individual she is talking to and ending with a comment to the individual. Emily is a shy, awkward, and neglected girl. Emily grew up in poverty and instability while all her other siblings grew up in the middle class. Emily's father left her when she was an infant and her mother had to work day and night to make ends meet. The narrator is seen as a woman who is dissatisified with her first child's upbringing and regrets not showing enough affection towards her. The main character represented in the short story is a nineteen year old girl named Emily. Repetition - "She was a beautiful baby" (282). This shows how much the narrator loved Emily.


Rhetorical Question - "Why do I put that first?" (282). The narrator is questioning herself at her own thoughts, showing how deep she is.


Metaphor - The idea of ironing represents how Emily is almost helpless before the iron. The tone of the story is regretful from the narrators point of view. The narrator feels regretful because she believes she did not raise Emily properly due to issues with poverty, divorce, and being jobless.
Ex. "Or will I become engulfed with all I did or did not do, with what should have been and what cannot be helped" (Olsen 282). There is, however a tone shift towards the end of the book. The narrator, after realizing her daughter's good points like having the ability to make people laugh, becomes slightly more hopeful about her daughters future. This makes her tone shift to a more hopeful one.
Ex. " Let her be. So all that is in her will not bloom - but in how many does it?" (Olsen 287). Imagery in this short story serves to contrast Emily from her surroundings . It shows how differently she was raised from the narrator's other kids,and it also serves to bring the main focus of the story on her.

Ex. "Oh its a handsome place, green lawns and tall trees and fluted flower beds. High up on the balconies of each cottage the children stand, the girls in the red bows and white dresses, th boys in white suits and giant red ties...Each visit she looked frailer. "She isn't eating," they told us"(Olsen 284).

Ex. "She fretted about her appearance, thin and dark and foreign looking..."(Olsen 284). Ex. "It wasn't just a little while. I didn't cry. Three times I called you just three times, and then I ran downstairs to open the door so you could come faster. The clock talked loud. I threw it away.,it scared me what it talked (Olsen 283).

Ex. "But the seeing eyes were few or nonexsistent, Including mine" (Olsen 282). The language overall helps the reader explore how the narrator felt about her daughters childhood and also helps the reader experience how the narrator feels. It also helps the reader realize how Emily's childhood might have been like. Setting The story is set in the 1950's.
The characters begin in the 1930's, living in poverty.
The short story changes settings when the narrator remarries, moving the setting to the middle class.
The narrator ends the story back in present time. Ex.
"She was dark and thin and foreign-looking in a world where the prestige went to blondness and curly hair and dimples, she was slow where glibness was prized." Ex.
"It was the pre-relief, pre WPA world of the depression. " By:
Chelsea Moore
Brian Walther
Misha Umer Other Characters:
Susan, Emily's adorable "perfect" sister
Ronnie, Emily's little brother
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