I Stand Here Ironing Overview

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"I Stand Here Ironing" recounts a poor working woman's ambivalence about her parenting skills and her eldest daughter's future. Published in Olsen's first collection of stories, Tell Me a Riddle, in 1961, this firstperson story contains many autobiographical elements. Central to the plot is the metaphor of a mother ironing her daughter's dress as she mentally attempts to "iron out" her uneasy relationship with her daughter through a stream-of-consciousness monologue. The narrator, a middle-aged mother of five—as Olsen was when she wrote the story—is the type of woman whose story was seldom heard at that time: a workingclass mother who must hold down a job and care for children at the same time. "Her father left me before she was a year old," the mother says, a circumstance that mirrors Olsen's predicament as a young mother. The story was heralded by the emerging women's movement of...

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This section contains 1,681 words
(approx. 5 pages 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.