I Stand Here Ironing Essay

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Elisabeth Piedmont-Marton is the coordinator of the Undergraduate Writing Center at the University of Texas at Austin. In the following essay, she explores the autobiographical elements in "I Stand Here Ironing," and discusses Olsen's inclusion of poor and underrepresented people and their situations in her work.

"I Stand Here Ironing" is the first story in Tillie Olsen's awarding-winning collection, Tell Me a Riddle, which was first published in 1961 when Olsen was in her late forties. In this story, which is considered her most autobiographical, Olsen breaks new literary ground in creating the voice of the mother-narrator and in crafting a narrative structure that mirrors as well as describes female experience. Like the four other stories in the collection, "I Stand Here Ironing" portrays the "aching hardships of poverty and the themes of exile or exclusion." This story, according to critics Mickey Pearlman and Abby Werlock in Tillie...

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This section contains 1,344 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the I Stand Here Ironing Study Guide
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I Stand Here Ironing from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.