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I Stand Here Ironing

I Stand Here Ironing


by Tillie Olsen

I Stand Here Ironing Women and Femininity Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Paragraph)

Quote #1

I stand here ironing, and what you asked me moves tormented back and forth with the iron. (1)

The story opens as if the narrator is interrupted while at a typical domestic task. This simple first sentence gives us some clues about our narrator. What kind of a person would say "I stand here ironing?" We think this person is probably a woman, a woman who does not have the money to pay for someone else to do the laundry, a woman who, if she is ironing constantly, probably has a large family to care for. As we read on, we find that our guesses would be right on target.

Quote #2

You think because I am her mother I have a key, or that in some way you could use me as a key? [...] There is all that life that has happened outside of me, beyond me. (3)

It could seem that the mother doesn't care enough about her daughter to really know her. But really, we think she has a rather defeated tone.  As the story progresses, we find that as a poor, single mother, the narrator simply did not have much time to spend with her daughter, however much she wanted to.

Quote #3

You do not guess how new and uneasy her tenancy in her now-loveliness. (5)

The narrator points out that Emily, who has only recently blossomed, struggled with her appearance in the past.

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