Literary Precedents for I Stand Here Ironing

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Written in 1961, decades after the experimentation with narrative structure that typified high modernist prose, "I Stand Here Ironing" does not seem radical in its rendering of a story as an internal monologue.

That technique was used in a more radical way by William Faulkner in The Sound and the Fury (1929), a novel that opens with an internal monologue by a mentally disabled member of the Compson family. While it does take some intuition to put all the pieces of Olsen's narrative into a neat chronological sequence, deciphering the rambling of Benjy in Faulkner's novel is quite a bit more difficult.

Olsen also has renowned predecessors for social concerns and themes. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, best known for fiction such as "The Yellow Wallpaper" (1892), carefully explored the social and economic consequences of the inequitable treatment of women in her nonfiction treatise, Women and Economics (1898). Prominent a generation before Olsen's birth...

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This section contains 378 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
Buy the I Stand Here Ironing Study Guide
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Short Stories for Students
I Stand Here Ironing from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.