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I Stand Here Ironing

I Stand Here Ironing


by Tillie Olsen

The Teacher

Character Analysis

The story never tells us who asks the question that starts the narrator thinking about Emily's life ("I wish you would manage the time to come in and talk with me about your daughter"). Most readers, Shmoop included, have to make do with calling this voice the "teacher" or "counselor." From the question, we know this character is somebody in a position to help a teenager but may not understand Emily's background or circumstances. In many ways, this voice is also the voice of ourselves, the readers. Our own ideas about education, society, and opportunities for advancement are tested as we learn of the many ways that Emily's own opportunities for a better life are constrained by her circumstances.