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I Stand Here Ironing

I Stand Here Ironing

by Tillie Olsen

Poverty Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

[...] I worked or looked for work and for Emily's father, who "could no longer endure" (he wrote in his good-bye note) "sharing want with us." (8)

When Emily's father leaves, the narrator is placed in the difficult position of a single working mother.

Quote #2

I was nineteen. It was the pre-relief, pre-WPA world of the depression. (9)

This quote helps set up the historical context for the story. It opens during the Great Depression, before President Franklin D. Roosevelt had set up work-relief institutions, like the Works Progress Administration (WPA). From this quote we know that times were tough for everyone, but probably more so for a single mother, since not many women were in the workforce in the 1930s.

Quote #3

But it came to where I had to bring her to his family and leave her. It took a long time to raise money for her fare back  (11)

Poverty breaks up the family, as the narrator has to leave Emily in the care of her father's family. There's a high price to pay for keeping a family together.

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