I Stand Here Ironing

973 Words Apr 14th, 2012 4 Pages
A Victim of Depression

In the 1930’s, America was hit with the worst economic depression of the twentieth century. It lasted over a decade and resulted in twenty five percent of the population without jobs. What was once the land of opportunity was now the land of desperation. In “I Stand Here Ironing” a mother looks back on her struggle of raising her daughter Emily, during the great depression. The author, Tillie Olsen, uses the setting of the book to explain the decisions the mother made and the lasting effect it had on her daughter. [ Informative]
The story begins with Emily’s mother ironing some clothes for the following day. The reader is witnessing an internal discussion she is having with herself, over her oldest daughter
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By the age of seven she had been to a babysitter, her fathers family, a nursery school, and a convalescent home. Emily’s mother describes the effect it had on her daughter though out the years, “When she saw me she would break into a clogged weeping that could not be comforted, a weeping I can hear yet.” (284) Even when they were together Emily would cry because she knows that eventually her mother would have to leave again. Emily’s character is shaped based on the conditions in which she was raised. As a baby Emily was described as a beautiful and happy. When Emily was given to her fathers family her mother was not able to see her until she was two years old in which she describes her as “walking quick and nervous, and thin like her father.”(284). Another incident is described where Emily is left alone while her mother and new step dad go out for a good time. When they come back Emily is crying and their clock is lying on the floor. When asked what happened she described that the ticking of the clock was bothering her. To Emily the ticking of the clock obviously meant that every tick was just a reminder of the time passing with her being alone once again. With the abandonment of her mother Emily had grown up learning to control her emotions and rely on herself for help.
Emily’s character is also shaped due to the era in which she was raised. It was very hard for
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