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Responsibility involves morals and ethics clearly defining a parent’s role as to knowing what actions are necessary to take. The decisions parents take on those actions affect how a child’s life will be determined, resulting in a vital turning point. Consequently, in “As I Stand Here Ironing” the feeling of welfare for Emily was stronger than the perception of the narrator seeing as a victim. Based on Emily’s childhood, she was not affected by the circumstances of the time but by the affection the narrator gives to her.
There is an obvious sense of hurrying around when one tries to follow the narrator. It seems as if nothing but household and her care for Emily is on her mind. She does not get a chance to stop and think of anything else. When she is ironing, it is a moment in her life when she gets an opportunity to slow down and reflect. When the teacher asks her about the way her daughter is prompting the teacher, she is forced to reflect upon painful memories and to think about the many different events through which her daughter’s life is shaped and the relationship between the mother and daughter is brought to the forefront.
The narrator realizes that all the decisions she has taken in life have greatly affected her daughter’s life and that she has been hurt by them but she also does not believe that there was anything else that she could have done or she does not see how things could have turned out differently. She is being completely and fully honest with herself all through the story and her reflections hit the reader hard.
The last sentence makes one realize that she is honest with herself, and she knows that she has not raised Emily the right way. She regrets her decisions immensely, and she is not censoring the reasons why.
There are three main feelings that are prevalent throughout the story; the narrator’s thoughtfulness, her honesty and the way she makes no attempt to hide her thoughts and lastly, her guilt at having raised her daughter the wrong way.
Olsen has portrayed social realism beautifully in her work, and the hard-hitting story teaches one what life is really like for people who cannot afford luxuries and all the fancy things money cannot buy. She focuses greatly on the everyday life of the working class and the struggles they have to go through in order to make it to the next day. It portrays almost the kind of accuracy one expects to read in a newspaper report on the watch on television feature stories. She edits nothing and lets the readers know everything about how the material life is the only life that struggling, lower and middle-class people get to live.
The story is also a sort of ‘coming-of-age’ story where one sees how Emily grows up to become the person that she is. We get to see how a mother’s actions and the things the mother-daughter duo have to go through have a huge effect on the way Emily’s personality becomes. We see how the hardships of the struggling class have a huge influence on Emily’s personal development.
In many ways, the story reflects the way newer writers prefer to write, even though this is an old story; they prefer to be brutally honest and real to highlight the problems faced by people and thus, they leave nothing out when doing so. A hard-hitting story like this is bound to be loved by many of the aspiring writers today.
Is the narrator a victim of time she lived in?
The narrator does seem like a victim of time that she lived in. The times when the fear sex was a lot more conservative, and even though not equally treated as males was however cared for more. The narrator views the matter bound by that age and time, causing here to have a more than decent affection to her.
Was Emily a child of her age of war and depression as the narrator says?
It is agreed with the narrator that Emily was a child in the age of depression and war since there was a chaos that had taken its toll on everyone, let alone a child’s survival from it.
Alternatively, did they have control over them?
It is actually quite crucial, the time that they lived in; it is hard to say if they had any room to escape the effects that the time had on them because war and depression had affected people so bad, that it turned the manners of thinking around. Behaviors are not random, rather tailored by the surroundings.
Deborah Rosenfelt. "From the thirties; Tillie Olsen and the radical tradition." Feminist Studies 7.3 (1981): -. Print.
Tillie Olsen. "I Stand Here Ironing " http://producer.csi.edu/. The University of Southern Idaho, n.d. Web. November 17, 2014.
Anderson, Karen. "Wartime women: sex roles family relations and the status of women during World War II." (1981).