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I Stand Here Ironing
I Stand Here Ironing
by Tillie Olsen
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Character Analysis

Susan is one of the narrator's children from her second marriage. Unlike Emily, Susan grew up in relatively comfortable circumstances, and in many ways, she is Emily's opposite. While Susan is "golden- and curley-haired and chubby," Emily is thin and dark-haired. Susan is "quick and articulate and assured," while Emily is quiet and lacks self-confidence. In short, Susan is "everything in appearance and manner Emily was not" (41). Susan actually sounds kind of bratty, taking credit for Emily's jokes and breaking Emily's things. While Susan doesn't get much space in the story, she serves as an example of what Emily might have grown up to be if she had had an easier, more comfortable life.

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