Writing Techniques in I Stand Here Ironing

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Much of the power of "I Stand Here Ironing" comes from the way in which the story is told. In a sense, Olsen's story is not a story at all. The events that take place during the duration of the narrative are the narrator's ironing and Emily's entrance. All the other narrative elements are events remembered while a mother irons, trying to piece together the moments that made her daughter the young woman she now is.

Thus, Olsen provides a kind of extended interior monologue. This kind of presentation seems particularly well suited to a story fundamentally about the psychology of motherhood. "I Stand Here Ironing" is remarkable for the way in which it matches its structure to its content, telling the tale of a mother's mental development by simply presenting a moment of that character's cogitation. It also reflects such thought in the physical action it depicts; as...

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This section contains 302 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.