"I Stand Here Ironing" by Tillie Olsen - New York …

I Stand Here Ironing Olsen, Tillie

Though her body of work is small, Tillie Olsen's unique perceptiveness and style have made her an important American writer. In "I Stand Here Ironing," not much happens: the narrator irons some dresses and exchanges a few words with her daughter. The real action is internal, a form of biographical free association reflected in Olsen's fragmented style. There is no climax, no answer, no satisfactory conclusion--just the mother's tormented moving mentally "back and forth with the iron." Yet the story ends on a hopeful, or at least prayerful, note.

Raising a family can be tough in the best of conditions. For a young mother in the midst of a war and a depression, raising a child can be absolutely tumultuous. Tillie Olsen’s “I Stand Here Ironing” recants one mother’s struggle to connect with her daughter and still overcome the adversities placed upon her. One of the central themes of this narrative is a mother’s guilt over not being able to connect with her daughter. This disconnection is brought on by external forces such as poverty and social oppression as well as the inexperience of being a mother. Olson, in her story "I Stand Here Ironing," reflects this guilt and emotional disconnection through point of view, tone, and word choice

Motherhood as literary metaphor has long been a cliche for the creative process: the artist gives birth to a work of art which takes on a life of its own. Motherhood as literary experience has only rarely existed at all, except as perceived by a resentful or adoring son who is working through his own identity in separation from the power of a nurturant and/or threatening past. The uniqueness of Tillie Olsen’s “I Stand Here Ironing” lies in its fusion of motherhood as both metaphor and experience: it shows us motherhood bared, stripped of romantic distortion, and reinfused with the power of genuine metaphorical insight into the problems of selfhood in the modern world.

i Stand Here Ironing By Tillie Olsen Free Essays - …

While the stories in are deceptively simple, Olsen's compressed, poetic style, broken by gaps and silences, suggests ever-widening social, historical, and political contexts. In "I Stand Here Ironing," a mother ponders the life of her 19-year-old daughter Emily, a child she gave birth to when she herself was 19 and a single mother. In an internal monologue, the nameless mother traces the life of this child of the Depression, of poverty, of "anxious, not proud, love," of a world shadowed by the Cold War and the atomic bomb. The story ends with a plea: "Only help her to know—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."

Tillie Olsen s "I Stand Here Ironing" Essay - 1177 Words

Olsen’s fiction, it augments the small body of work for which she has received much praise. Olsen has lectured at many universities, including the University of California at Los Angeles, and has served as writer-in-residence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition to receiving several honorary degrees, her stories, including “I Stand Here Ironing,” have appeared in more than one hundred anthologies.

I Stand Here Ironing Summary Tillie Olsen

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Tillie Olsen's "I Stand Here Ironing" is told as an interior monologue held by the mother who has been contacted by school officials about her daugther. The monologue of the narrator/mother...

Tillie Olsen’s I Stand Here Ironing Essay

In “I Stand Here Ironing,” Olsen suggests that the role of selfless mother that society expects women to embrace is actually an obstacle to any kind of successful self-discovery. Rather than help women achieve self-actualization, motherhood actually strands women in lives laden with toil and excessive responsibility. Olsen offers a representation of motherhood laid bare, shorn of any romantic embellishment. Instead of presenting an ideal example of a nurturing role model guiding her charges to success, Olsen gives us a protagonist who obsessively meditates on the harsher, more bitter realities of family life. The narrator deflates certain overblown notions regarding motherhood, in particular the primacy of the child-parent bond. The narrator no more understands than the teacher or counselor who requests the mother’s presence at a face-to-face meeting. The narrator is not evil, abusive, or intentionally neglectful, but she is a conflicted victim of circumstance whose personal resources can go only so far. The fact that the narrator did not or could not participate more fully in Emily’s life may have led to the undefined issue that currently besets the young woman. The narrator is able to meet the basic physical needs of her children but is incapable of forming a deeper, more emotional bond with them.

I Stand Here Ironing Olsen submited images.

Olsen’s “I Stand Here Ironing” tells the story of a mother’s relationship with her eldest daughter in a stark and dramatic fashion that has impressed critics and fellow writers with its originality and accessibility. The story is told entirely in the voice of the mother, but nonetheless manages to convey a dynamic relationship between two believable characters without resorting to cliche and sentimentality.

Essays - largest database of quality sample essays and research papers on I Stand Here Ironing By Tillie Olsen

Stand Here Ironing, by Tillie Olson [...] how it deals with the subject of women, especially poor women. Societies have always oppressed their weakest members, and women have always been perceived as the "weaker" sex. Olsen illustrates the suffering of poor women as they attempt to live a decent live and raise their children with dignity while making sure they can better themselves and live a more rewarding life.


Tillie Olsen, who wrote this story in 1961, knew what poor people faced. She was born in Nebraska in 1913, and her parents were Jewish immigrants. Her father became a vocal member of the Socialist Party, and his daughter picked up his blue-collar ideas. When she was young, she worked as a waitress, in factories, and in warehouses, so she fully understood what she wrote about, and the difficulties poor women faced in society. She tried to organize……

Analysis of 'I Stand Here Ironing' by Tillie Olsen - WriteWork

In Olsen’s “I Stand Here Ironing,” an unnamed narrator reflects on her somewhat distant relationship with her eldest daughter. It is a story about the search—by both mother and daughter—for individual identity despite the limitations imposed by a history of poverty and other social constraints. While it examines the difficulties a mother and daughter have in finding identities separate from