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I Stand Here Ironing
I Stand Here Ironing
by Tillie Olsen
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Food and Nourishment

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Food is often a scarce commodity in the story, as the narrator struggles to provide the basic essentials for her daughter. Food and nourishment have a symbolic value, as well, indicating the changes in Emily's psychological and emotional well-being. When she is born, nourished by her mother's breast milk, Emily is described as a beautiful child, but as their situation deteriorates, so does Emily. At the age of two, "all the baby loveliness is gone" (11), and with her mother's second marriage, Emily seems to lose even more weight as her mother's attention turns to the other children (24).

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