The narrator stands working at her ironing board, responding mentally to a request Tillie Olsen was a high school dropout, who raised four children and. I stand here ironing is a personal and rich piece of literature owing to the fact that its subject matters have not been presented as black or white. “I Stand Here Ironing” is a short story by Tillie Olsen that was first published in See a complete list of the characters in “I Stand Here Ironing” and in- depth.

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The predicaments faced by this young mother would have been much less if her external environment had been less harsh. I stand here ironing fu,l a story that tackles numerous societal problems including mother daughter conflicts, gender roles, diligence, jroning effects of national economic struggles and the challenges of single parenthood.

Even the narrator herself appears to hold insignificant jobs in her life. Olsen had been abandoned and had to find a way of coping with poverty.

Furthermore, society had not instilled certain social support services such as welfare and the like. At the tender age of sixteen, Olsten could no longer go to school because her family needed her to make economic contributions to their income.

I Stand Here Ironing [FREE Text Sample!]

Emily is overwhelmed by her past which was filled with a lack of involvement by her mother and also lack of affection from the same individual. In “I Stand Tillid Ironing,” not much happens: She’s a youngster who needs help. Minor signs of affection such as smiles 6 were fulll virtually unknown to Emily. In such circumstances, all one can do is try and cope with the challenges rather than resist them and deal with the consequences later.


She used to complain a lot of times and was never happy with the way they lived. This put Olsen at a serious disadvantage because the lack of education meant minimal access to great economic opportunities stajd hence a life of poverty Olen, 4.

I stand here ironing is a personal and rich piece of literature owing to the fact that its subject matters have not been presented as black or white; they each have their own flaws and inadequacies.

This could be an illustration of how unfair the system was to them. Though her body of work is small, Tillie Olsen’s unique perceptiveness and style have made her an important American tillle.

Gender roles are also another important theme in the book. Olsen wishes that she was in a position to give her daughter a better life than the one she lived when she was young. In fact, at the beginning of the narrative when Olsen receives heree call from an external party about Emily needing help, she starts to wonder what the problem was and what she could have done to prevent those problems.

Another emerging theme in the story is the personal effects of national economic downfall. She will find her way.

I Stand Here Ironing

Emily longs to enjoy a normal life but may feel that too much has been said and done to allow her this Olsen, 8. In addition, Olsen was left by her spouse. External factors are therefore critical in determining how the lives of individuals eventually play out. Throughout the story, one does not find any description of women who happen to be economically successful.


When she was in her mid-forties, she returned to writing regularly. This explains ironingg it became a reference point for explaining how women were often ignored during difficult times.

The kind of jobs she could secure required her to sacrifice her time away from her family or the things that mattered most to her. Three of the four stories included in Tell Me a Riddle were published separately during the late ‘s, and Tell Me a Riddle [see annotation in this database] won the O’Henry Award for the best short story of Olsen is a single mother who is faced with the task of bringing up a sickly child Emily on her own.

Throughout the book, one cannot help but wonder what would have happened to Emily if her father had been around. Her economic situation made her settle for heere even when she knew that she deserved better. Emily feels that she missed out on some of the critical factors of growing up. The girl ii a natural performer, a wonderful comedienne, who now is in demand throughout the city and state.

Primary Source Tell Me a Riddle.

I Stand Here Ironing

As Olsen thinks about her early life with young Emily, she creates an image of very difficult circumstances. The issue of persistence in the face of turmoil is also an important theme in the short story.

Reference Kelly, Joseph, ed.