How important is the setting?
The setting of “I Stand Here Ironing” is particularly significant and real. The year 1932, when the mother indicates that she herself was 19, was the time of the Great Depression. During this time talking movies were new, and a favorite child star was Shirley Temple (paragraph 35), who sang and danced to divert filmgoers from their real troubles. Many mothers of the time tried to model their daughters on Shirley Temple, and many other mothers regretted that their daughters resisted such molding. In World War II (1941–1945), wives and girlfriends were encouraged to write “V-Mail” (paragraph 45) to loved members of the armed services. From 1945 to 1952, many students developed a fatalistic attitude about atomic weapons (paragraph 53), before nuclear weapons became an even more ominous reality. In the 1930s a single parent like the narrator would have experienced just such difficulties with preserving a secure home that the narrator describes, and things would have improved during and after the war. All these aspects of setting make the story real, almost like genuine autobiography.