I Stand Here Ironing Essay

991 Words May 2nd, 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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More than 200,000 vagrant children wandered the country as a result of the breakup of their families.(digitalhistory.edu). Even when families did stick together they were needed to fill roles that normally weren’t for them to fill. Emily’s mother describes the roles that Emily had to take on,” She had to help be a mother, and housekeeper, and shopper. She had to set her seal.”(287). There was no time for playing. There was only time for survival and the hard work that came with it. At the end of the story Emily is now nineteen. She is witty and loved by many for her comical talent. Her mother knows though that because of her past she will never reach the expectations that she is capable of.
“There were years she did not want me to touch her. She kept too much in herself, her life was such she had to keep too much in herself. My wisdom came too late. She has much to her and probably little will come of it. She is a child of her age, of depression, of war, of fear” (289) Emily is a victim of the Depression. Compared to her siblings she is the experimental child with the mistakes to prove it. She tells her mother that she is skipping finals. When her mother asks about her grades she replies with the answer that it does not matter, for everyone is going to die in the nuclear war anyways. Her mother just shruggs it off for there is nothing she can do. She is a child of sadness and struggle, of sacrifice and growing up too

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