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The Alienation of Emily - Essay Example

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Summary
The short story "I Stand Here Ironing" is Tillie Olsen's dark portrayal of the inadequacies we face as parents, the difficulties of growing up, and a grim reminder of how far apart a mother and daughter can be in such a close place. The story conveys the indifference and despair of hard times, with a mother too busy to succeed at work or at home…
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The Alienation of Emily
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The Alienation of Emily

Download file to see previous pages... Her mother is unable to offer any comfort or correction for life already passed, the wrinkles already set. "I Stand Here Ironing" is the way we live, succumbing to life and stoically accepting that there will never be enough time to build anything but walls. .
The mother tells us early on that she has surrendered to the bad hand that she was dealt, and that she has accepted Emily's unknown and uncertain future. Her opening conversation with an unknown figure, possibly her own conscious, pleading to help Emily, shows her lack of will in the matter when she remarks, "Even if I came, what good would it do". The mother has given up on Emily. She gave up on Emily a long time ago, when Emily was young and the father had abandoned her. Just as is often the case in everyone's life, we see the mother making choices, accepting the lesser of the evils, foregoing the opportunity for fun or pleasure.
Emily's mother knows that her daughter is the product of her own shortcomings. The old man's words, "You should smile at Emily more when you look at her", continue to haunt her, yet for Emily it was too late. She feels the guilt when she remembers, "It was only with the others I remembered what he said, and it was the face of joy, and not of care or tightness or worry I turned to them -- too late for Emily". ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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