Analysis Of I Stand Here Ironing

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“I Stand Here Ironing” is a short story written by Tillie Olsen that focuses on the struggles that come along with having the responsibilities of a working-class mother. Within the story, the narrator and her daughter’s teacher exemplify signs of a complex relationship as the teacher shows concern for Emily’s wellbeing while the narrator disagrees. Throughout the story, there are various examples of unreliable narrator shifts and defensiveness, which are discussed through the stream of consciousness of the narrator. From initially being extremely protective of Emily, to eventually accepting and understanding the teacher’s concern, the relationship between the narrator and the teacher becomes productive in helping the mother learn about the mistakes she made while raising her daughter while also teaching the reader a valuable lesson in parenting. In the beginning of the story, the relationship between the narrator and the teacher appears to be rigid, as Emily’s mother is immediately defensive of her child’s welfare. After the teacher ensures that she is “deeply interested in helping” the young girl who is still maturing, the narrator immediately retorts with, “Even if I came, what good would it do? You think because I am her mother I have a key, or that in some way you could use me as a key?” She then goes on to discuss how wonderful and beautiful Emily was as a baby, which will later be contrasted as the young girl begins to age and becomes more thin and frail. The fact
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