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I Stand Here Ironing

I Stand Here Ironing


by Tillie Olsen

I Stand Here Ironing Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. The narrator wonders whether Emily, her daughter, will ever fulfill her potential. What do you think the future holds for Emily?
  2. In the story, the narrator reconsiders many of the choices she made: her decision to put Emily in various childcare situations; her work and second marriage; her treatment of Emily through the years. What do you think of the narrator's choices? Did she have any alternatives?
  3. How would Emily's life have been different if she had grown up under different circumstances – in a more stable household, with more money and better educational opportunities? Do you think she would have developed her talent for comedy? Why or why not?
  4. Suppose you were Emily's teacher or counselor, the person who asks the narrator for insight into Emily's character. Given what you learn in the story, what do you think you could do to help Emily?

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