I Stand Here Ironing

by Tillie Olsen

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Examine the confict the mother is facing.

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Part of the challenge in assessing the conflict that the mother is facing.  They are realities that strike at the heart of any parent. As a young mother, the fundamental conflict that the narrator faced was one in which she struggled to make ends meet financially while meeting her responsibilities as a mother.  In many cases, the economic realities won and her duties towards Emily came second.  This is one source of her conflict.  The need to make money trumped her ability to be there for her child.

This reality is one that provides a long term sense of conflict in how the mother sees her relationship with her child.  On one hand, there is the reality that she needed to provide for her child's needs and her family's well being.  The mother speaks of how she was doing this on her own, as the father left the family.  The conflict arises when the mother recognizes what needed to be done in order for this to happen.  Leaving her with insufficient child care, not paying attention to her "gifts" in school and in life, and essentially being forced to make the choice for economics over emotional nurturing are all realities that impact the mother.  They compel the mother to experience unresolved feelings over the choices she was forced to make and the paths taken.  It is here in which conflict is evident.

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