I Stand Here Ironing

by Tillie Olsen

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What are some intersting topics in "I Stand Here Ironing"?

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The major topic under consideration in this excellent example of a monologue is the mother-daughter relationship and the perception of the mother as she reflects on her daughter and their relationship as she grew up. In particular, what is felt by the mother is that she is too late now to do anything about her relationship with her daughter. At key points in her childhood, the mother reflects that "they" persuaded her to do things, ostensibly for her daughter's own benefit, but now the mother recognises that these choices have hurt and damaged her daughter and are some of the reasons behind their estrangement. Note, for example, the way she talks about when she was persuaded to send her daughter to a convalescent home:

They persuaded me at the clinic to send her away to a convalescent home in the country where "she can have the kind of food and care you can't manage for her, and you'll be free to concentrate on the new baby." 

However, the reality of the "ravaged looks" on the childrens faces that the mother remembers when she visited every other week, which was the only time she was allowed to visit, shows the way that this persuasion was ultimately to the detriment of her daughter. Thus one topic that is of massive interest in this story is the mother-daughter relationship and how the mother, in retrospect, regrets allowing herself to be persuaded to follow a course of action that impacted her daughter negatively. 

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