I Stand Here Ironing tells a story of a mother and daughter relationship. The story takes place in a kitchen, most likely the mother’s kitchen, where she is going through her daughter’s clothes. I think it is important to know who the protagonist of this story is because I feel it would make the reader more attached to them. I believe the protagonist of I Stand Here Ironing is the mother because she is going through her daughter’s clothes, and I feel it would be a different story if it was about someone else going through them. I imagine both of these characters to have a significant relationship with one another which makes the emotion in this story so strong.
I think I would be able to connect to the characters in I Stand Here Ironing in a different way because I could relate to their relationship. I do not think I have come across a story that tells a character analysis of a mother and daughter before, so this was an interesting subject for me. I believe that the author intended for the audience to sympathize with this woman who is going through her daughter’s belongings. The reason I think this is because she wants to “throw it all away,” but can’t bring herself to do it because she feels like she will be throwing away her daughter too.
” I Stand Here Ironing ” was first published in the March 1, 1962 issue of The Atlantic Monthly. ” I Stand Here Ironing ” is a character analysis by Tillie Olsen about a mother and her struggles with the guilt she feels because of her many children. The story begins with an unidentified woman standing at an ironing board, pressing clothes as she thinks back on the events leading up to this current situation. She reflects upon moments from her youth, being born into poverty and having no education or opportunities.
Unhappy with her own life, she marries young and has one child whom she adores, but tragically dies shortly after his birth due to illness. Devastated over losing this child yet again years later to scarlet fever, the woman tries to convince her husband they should not have any more children. However, he does not listen and she becomes pregnant four more times. The unnamed protagonist gives birth to three girls in quick succession before the final baby is a boy, which completely changes their lives for the better.
The family moves into a bigger house and Ira (the father) goes out to get a nine-to-five job, allowing his wife to stay at home with the kids. As time goes on, Ira becomes dissatisfied with his life as just another man working for someone else and spends less time at home. Stuck taking care of all five kids by herself while Ira is working late hours at, the mother begins to resent Ira and the children for trapping her. Ira lives a double life, he is secretly having an affair with another woman and comes home only to sleep. One night Ira does not come home at all and his wife fears he has been killed in a car accident.
Despite Ira’s absence, the family struggles on as they always have until Ira returns months later with financial help from another man whose child Ira was caring for during his disappearance. The mother now has six children to care for by herself, working hard everyday to make enough money to support them all while Ira sits around and watches television all day. The story ends with Ira sitting in front of the TV as his wife says “And I stand here ironing, and what you asked me moves tormented back and forth with the iron I wield” (Olsen 538).
The mother is forced to take care of all their children while Ira continues to live his life as if nothing has changed. The story’s protagonist, a woman who remains unnamed throughout I Stand Here Ironing , spends her time caring for her five children; three girls and two boys. She begins I Stand Here Ironing by reflecting upon her early life: growing up in poverty and having very little education or opportunities. Her poor upbringing leads to an unhappy marriage and the births of three baby girls one after another. After the third child, the mother gives birth to a son, Ira Junior or Ira J. which completely changes their family’s life for the better.
Ira J. is Ira Senior’s third child; Ira Senior already has two children from his first marriage, Ira Junior Sr. ‘s half-brother and half-sister Ira Junior Jr. and Ruthie. The shift in their lives is reflected by the family moving to a bigger house into which they can fit more furniture; Ira goes out to get a nine-to-five job that allows his wife to stay at home with the children; and Ira I. , who like his father does not want for much, eats well and grows tall (unlike the protagonist) while remaining an extremely kind person, unlike Ira Senior.
Despite these positive developments Ira I. is referred to rather than Ira Senior, who now has less time for his wife and children as he spends more hours at work. Ira I. does not seem interested in having an education or making friends outside of his immediate family; however, unlike Ira Sr. , Ira I. ‘s life is relatively stable due to the fact that he remains close with his family even after moving out on his own at age 17. The protagonist worries about her husband Ira’s lack of commitment and constant late-night socializing which leads him to meet another woman (not named).
Ira becomes emotionally distant from both his family and co-workers, spending the majority of their savings on gifts for this other woman. The mother returns to work to help Ira I. pay for his college education, but Ira I. ends up dropping out of school at the end of senior year. Ira I. ‘s decision to drop out is likely the result of him being unable to afford tuition without help from his family or because he was discouraged by his parents’ poor example; Ira Sr. stopped attending night classes after only one semester in order to return home and sleep next to his wife.