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Thematic 2 - Essay Example

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Name Instructor Course Date Sibling Relationships in “Everyday Use” and “I Stand Here Ironing.” Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” and Tillie Olsen’s “I Stand Here Ironing” are poignant short stories which focus on the mother-daughter relationship…
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Thematic 2

Download file to see previous pages... In “I Stand Here Ironing,” a mother reflects on her struggle to raise her daughter Emily during the harsh years of the Great Depression and the World War. She questions the decisions she has made and their effect on her daughter. The mothers are the narrators in “Everyday Use” and “I Stand Here Ironing.” Another point of similarity in the two stories is the sibling relationships. Walker’s Dee and Maggie, and Olsen’s Emily and Susan, are sisters whose interactions play important roles in the development of the narratives. The two pairs of siblings experience similar treatment from their mothers, and have similar personalities and sibling relationships. Maggie in “Everyday Use” and Emily in “I Stand Here Ironing” are treated in similar ways by their mothers. Maggie and Emily are the elder daughters in poor households. In these circumstances, they are called upon to share a significant part of the mothers’ domestic burdens. Maggie cleans the yard, stays back in the kitchen to wash-up after dinner and, unlike her sister, knows all the household tasks, including quilting. Her position is the family is “like somebody used to never winning anything, or having anything reserved for her” (Walker, 74). In the same way, Emily is obliged “to help be a mother, and housekeeper, and shopper” (Olsen, 5). Maggie and Emily bear the brunt of the family’s poverty. ...
Walker’s narrator placidly condones the selfishness of the successful Dee, who has carved a place for herself in the outside world, and takes for granted the stay-at-home Maggie, who stoically bears her modest lot. Similarly, Olsen’s mother admits that, unlike her younger siblings, Emily is “a child of her age, of depression, of war, of fear” (Olsen, 7). It is clear that the younger siblings, Dee and Susan, receive preferential treatment from the two mothers. The mothers come to acknowledge this discrimination. Maggie’s mother makes amends by refusing to give Dee the quilts, while Emily’s mother hopes the Emily will “find her way” (Olsen, 7) in the future. The siblings in the two stories also share appearances and personalities. Maggie is “homely and ashamed of the burn scars down her arms and legs” (Walker, 2). She shuffles and sidles up to people, is afraid to meet strangers and totally lacks self-confidence. Her mother declares, “She knows she is not bright. Like good looks and money, quickness passes her by” (Walker, 13). Similarly, Emily’s walk is nervous. Her skin is scarred by pock marks and she stammers in class. Her mother says “She was not glib or quick” (Olsen, 4). In contrast, the younger siblings are pretty and confident. Dee is “lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and a fuller figure” (Walker, 10). She is attractive, extroverted, confident and ready to take what she wants. Likewise, Susan is “golden and curly haired and chubby, quick and articulate and assured, everything in appearance and manner Emily was not” (Olsen, 5). The mothers themselves admit that the elder girls are inferior to their younger siblings in attractiveness and personality. The two pairs of siblings experience ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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