Conflict can be subdivided into two major categories: internal and external. "I Stand Here Ironing" contains both, but the main conflict is internal.
The narrator is struggling with herself. She is trying to come to grips with what she sees as her failure as a mother. The iron that "moves tormented back and forth" is symbolic of her tormented thoughts and her constant and repeated struggle to smooth the wrinkles from her daughter's life, a struggle that never seems finished no matter how hard she tries.
The external conflicts are the poverty and illness that interfere with the narrator's ability to successfully parent her child and the pending meeting with the...
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