“As I Stand Here Ironing” Reaction

Please leave your response to “As I Stand Here Ironing” below.

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12 Responses to “As I Stand Here Ironing” Reaction

  1. Ariel Aharon says:

    I Stand Here Ironing, is an extremely sad story about a mother who’s tormented with guilt on how she raised her daughter. Due to the tough circumstances during the depression, and a fathers walk out, Emily was left in the care “with the woman downstairs” and “his family.” Being absent for six years of Emily’s life left a huge toll on the depressed thin Emily. The Mother attempts to “total” Emily’s life but sets herself up for failure knowing she can never “total” her daughters life. She uses the metaphor of an iron going back and forth trying to get out the creases which stand for the pain in Emily’s life.
    “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.” The iron is the memory and the mother, the mother is also the dress. She’s helpless she doesn’t want that for Emily to be a victim to her memory.

  2. Cassandra Needham says:

    In Tullie Olsen’s story “I Stand here Ironing” a mother is looking back reflecting on her first child Emily’s life. The mother is hoping for a better life for Emily. When she says “She is more than this dress on the ironing board, helpless before the iron.” Throughout the essay the mother repetively goes back and forth from the present and the past. She is ironing in the present and sometimes in the past the iron represents the motion of going back and forth between the two. Since Emily’s mother is always ironing she is never able to become more than that and she hopes for better for Emily.
    In the essay the mother says how she wishes her wisdom didn’t come out to late for Emily. The mother truely regrets the way she raised Emily, and significantly changed her methods with her other children. In Olsen’s essay she says that with her other children she always would go back to when an old man told her that she should smile at Emily to show she loves her. She changed because of the way Emily would act. When Emily would cry at night the mom would disregard her, and say that she was alright and not sooth her. This caused Emily to be hostile with her mother, and shut her out like how her mother did to her. The lack of parenting skills the mother had with Emily was reflected in the way that Emily turned out compared to the younger children that came when the mother was more experienced in parenting.
    Olsen speaks mostly about the mother so I get the sense that she wants the readers to react to her. The story is written in the mother point of view as well giving us incite to what she is feeling and trying to accomplish with the story. If the story was told from Emily’s point of view the reader would get a better sense of Emily’s view on the way she was raised. With the monologue, the mother wants to reassure herself that she was a good parent, but in the end she is never able to come to a conclusion.

  3. Amanda Zelman says:

    The story “I Stand Here Ironing” by Tillie Olsen is about a mother looking back at the way she raised her daughter, Emily. Emily’s mother attempts to summarize the life of Emily, which is impossible. With all the memories the mother looks back on, she tries to forgive herself for the way she brought up Emily. At the end of the story it says, “She is more than the dress on the ironing board, helpless before the iron”. The mother is the dress and the iron. Without the iron she’s helpless, because without the memories of her daughter Emily’s life she couldn’t try to forgive herself.
    Emily’s mother believes she made some mistakes in Emily’s upbringing. In the story the mother describes her other children as throwing tantrums and rebelling, but never Emily. Emily never felt safe enough to go against her mother. Most kids understand that if they protest against their parents, they will always be loved. Emily never felt that safety in her mother. The mother regrets not giving her the love, smiles and the attention she gave her other children. The mother feels responsible for the way Emily was brought up.
    In the beginning of the story someone seems to be talking to the mother. We don’t have any evidence as to who it is, but it could be someone from a school interested in helping Emily or it could be a monologue. The mother could be talking over to herself the life of her daughter, Emily. It doesn’t seem the speaker understands Emily better, it just seems she is willing to talk about Emily, oppose to her mother who feels very guilty. Although the mother tries to redeem herself by summarizing Emily’s life she will never total it. “Aren’t you ever gonna finishing ironing, mother?” The mother will never be able to finish ironing because her relationship with Emily will never be smooth.

  4. Diana Garcia says:

    In the story, I Stand Here Ironing, the author Tillie Olsen writes about the damaged relationship between a mother and daughter. Throughtout the story the mother is repeatedly trying to justify her actions and the reasoning behind it all. I do not think that she realized how greatly her actions were going to affect her daughter’s life. I think that Olsen wants us to belive that the mother is justifying her actions and the relationship she and Emily share. The mother, however, realizes that she can never sum up their relationship or the life they went through. This is made evident in the second to last paragraph where the mother states “My wisdom has come to late…” She realizes that she cannot fix or justify the relationship rather just accept it. In the final paragraph the mother realizes that she cannot change the memories she and her daughter share rather she hopes that her daughter, Emily, will not let the memories dictate her life.

  5. Julie Ahn says:

    “I Stand Here Ironing” by Tullie Olsen is a story about a struggling mother’s guilt and regret on how she raised her first child, Emily. The story represents a darker reality to family life and motherhood. At a young age, the mother struggled to raise money while at the same time, form a bond with Emily. She says, “You think because I am her mother I have a key, or that in some way you could use me as a key?” which implies that she does not see herself as a key to Emily and is unsure of what kind of help Emily needs.
    Though the mother laments over the past, it seems she doesn’t make much effort to help Emily, even now. Similar to her mother, Emily is left on her own, to solve her own problems. She wants Emily to realize on her own that she is “more than this dress on the ironing board, helpless before the iron.” They have a certain distance, as if they were complete strangers rather than mother and daughter. She says, “This is one of her communicative nights” which implies that there are nights where they rarely speak to one another.
    In the story, it was set at the mother’s point of view. We get a sense that not only did Emily endure much problems, but the mother as well. We have a certain understanding of the struggles of a young mother during the Great Depression. Though the mother doesn’t seem to be able to forgive herself, she wants her daughter to have some self-worth as there is still much life left for her.

  6. Tristan Bisram says:

    The story entitled “I stand Here Ironing” by Tullie Olsen is a depressing reflection of how a mother raised her daughter and how it has affected both of them and their relationship now. The mother is basically expressing guilt on her past mistakes with Emily, realizing that the way Emily grew up formed the foundation for how and who she is now. She expresses to the reader that she wants Emily to know that she means more than what was expressed to her in her childhood, and she never meant it to affect her self esteem. I think Olsen wanted us to put ourselves in the mothers shoes, and by the end of the passage, to be more sympathatic towards the mothers situation. As she literally stands their Ironing, with the movement of the Iron back and forth, so is her train of thought, going back and forth from the memories of the past and back to the present. Another important theme of this story is the inability to total someones life. Several times in the passage, she attempts to summarize, each of them containing slightly different content with new information. It proves the point that you will never be able to total someones life, even in a lifetime

  7. Alex Hu says:

    Tillie Olsen’s “I Stand Here Ironing” is a story about a mother looking back and feeling guilty about the mistakes she made raising her first daughter, Emily. Throughout the story, the mother seeks to justify her mistakes, which she fails just like she fails to total all the things that happened. The mother had Emily as a nineteen year old during the Depression, and on top of that the father walked out of their lives. This made it very hard on both the mother and the daughter already. The mother reflects on all the memories she has of raising Emily and she is haunted by her guilt of not raising her properly. One way the ironing relates to mother and daughter is when the daughter asks “Aren’t you ever going to finish the ironing, mother?”. The mother is trying to iron out all the creases which is a metaphor for her trying to fix all the mistakes in Emily. The mother won’t ever finish ironing all the creases because it would be impossible to “correct” Emily.

  8. Diana Marzulli says:

    “I Stand Here Ironing” by Tillie Olsen is a heavyhearted story about a mothers loss of control over her daughters life. The mother expresses how troubled her daughter Emily is throughout the story. She says, “She is a child of depression, of war, of fear.” (pg 68) Emily’s mother try’s to convince the reader, and herself, that her financial circumstances were not well enough to raise Emily to the best of her ability. For example, “I was a young mother, I was a distracted mother.” (pg 68) Although this may be true, she contradicts her sorrow and regret when she says “Who needs help?…Even if i came, what good would it do? You think because I am her mother I have a key..or that you could in some way use me as a key.?” Emily’s mother was offered help and refused it because she believes there is no changing what has already been ruined, Emily’s life, meanwhile she is the key to fixing her child’s life, and her failure to see that is the reason her daughter had an unsatisfactory childhood.

  9. Jongpil Park says:

    This short story is about a struggling mother who tried to get by with her little children, especially the first one: Emily. The story’s background is the Great Depression and it had a great influence on the family. The narrator of the story is Emily’s mother. She describes Emily’s upbringing in a great detail while she is ironing. Emily’s upbringing had a serious effect on her physical and emotional development. The mother felt a painful guilt for not being a good mother. The narrator seems to talk to the jury to get an acquittal or sometimes to her psychotherapist to alleviate her heavy guilt. She kept justifying her actions by saying “I did not know it” or “I could not do otherwise” Many things went wrong when she raised Emily. The evidence is Emily’s weak physical development, asthma and the superficial relationship between the two. She was not nice to Emily. For example, she did not smile enough to Emily. She did not tolerate Emily’s tantrums.
    Who is responsible for all these? It could be poverty for Emily’s father who abandoned his family. Emily’s mother blames even war for her situation. “She is a child of her age, of depression, of war, of fear.” It can be a genetic problem because Emily is the daughter of her ex-husband. The narrator’s attitude toward her own life is ambivalent. She constantly rationalizes her terrible child-rearing. Emily’s father left the family. In this sense, she thinks herself as a victim of all the happenings in the universe. Why does, then, she bothers herself with all these excuses? Because she also believes that she is in charge of her own life.

  10. Aviva Klammer says:

    “I Stand here Ironing” is the story of a mom feeling terrible guilt about the way she raised her daughter. The mom begins the narrative trying to “total” her daughters life in order to justify the mom she was. Setting up the mission of totalling someones’ life is equivalent to setting up the impossible. It seemed that her daughter, Emily, was an easy child to raise as she never threw tantrums. Analyzing this however, it is evident that throwing tantrums is a sign of security and emotional connection between mom and child. Emily never felt this unique sort of love enough to feel confident to throw a tantrum. Emily had a rough childhood as her mom needed to go to work and be a single parent during the economic depression. Despite these excuses for lack of better raising Emily, the mom feels awful and wishes she could have raised her daughter with better care.

    Several times mathematical terms are used in this essay to demonstrate that life cannot just be summed up the same way that perhaps something else could be solved mathematically. The mom so desperately feels a need to total Emily’s life but everytime she tries to do so she fails. “…helpless before the iron…she is more than this dress on the ironing board…” The mom is hopeless as the dress under the iron. There will always be creases of guilt sitting with her but hopefully Emily will lead a new and better life, instead of falling to be a victim of her childhood memories.

  11. Shadi Karimi says:

    “I stand here ironing” by Tillie Olsen is a story about a mother who feels guilty about her past and the way she has raised her daughter, Emily. The narrator in the story is the mother who is too suffered from what she has done to her daughter in the past and feels too guilty that she wants to talk about it so badly. So, she is talking to herself and is trying to justify the past by reviewing it. She moves back and forth in the past and the present and trys to come up with an excuse for her wrong behavior. For example, at the beginning of the story she tells a little about the circumstances and the situation she was in at that time by saying things like Emily’s father left them and she had to work while raising Emily. But at the end, she realizes that her excuses are not logical and acceptable and she can’t change the memories she and her daughter have. The only thing she can do is to wish Emily a good life and hope her past doesn’t affect her future life negatively.

  12. Shahrzad Karimi says:

    “As I Stand Here Ironing” by Tullie Olsen is a story about a mother, feeling responsible for all the problems in her eldest daughter’s life, but trying to convince herself by reviewing the story of her life. She knows that she has made some mistakes, sometimes unintentional, and she hasn’t given enough love and care and attention to Emily-her daughter. But she is trying to forget these memories to run away from the suffer and the pain.
    As she is “standing and ironing”, she goes through all the memories that she has with Emily; as if she is trying to iron them and remove all the wrinkles off them. She is struggling with these memories, trying to find reasons to justify her own actions. She tells about all the circumstances at that time and Emily’s own characteristics and behavior; the fact that she had to let Emily go to day care when she was young in order to work and raise Emily on her own and not being beside her daughter when she was growing up, and when she realized that she has to be nice to Emily, Emily was no longer her “little girl”. She would hold back and try to be independent from her mother. But still, after giving all these reasons, it seems that deep down, she feels guilty and cannot forgive herself. She knows that Emily has been hurt by all these mistakes. And now all the mother can do is trying to put these memories behind and wishing for Emily to have a great future.

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