What are some of the things people outside the family tried to convince the narrator would be best for Emily in "I Stand Here Ironing"?I just didn't understand the question.

Expert Answers
dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As she struggled with poverty, abandonment, inexperience, and exhaustion in raising her oldest daughter Emily, the narrator was often inundated with advice from people outside the family.  There were teachers who encouraged her "to come in and talk...about your daughter...(who were) very interested in helping".  Overwhelmed with the burdens of her life, the narrator is skeptical that they would have been able to do anything, even if she did come in.  She remembers when Emily was two, and others said she was old enough for nursery school.  Although the narrator did enroll her daughter then, it did not go well, but she did it because she had to.

An old man living in the neighborhood once told the narrator, "You should smile at Emily more when you look at her".  The narrator does not remember what was in her face when she looked at her little girl, but she knows that she loved her.  After the new baby was born and Emily got the measles and had a hard time recovering, people at the clinic persuaded the speaker to "send her away to a convalescent home in the country where she can have the kind of food and care (the mother couldn't) manage for her"; it was a terrible place, and it "took eight months to get her released home".

When it was discovered that Emily had a talent for comedy and acting, the narrator was advised "to do something about her with a gift like that".  The mother had no money and did not know how to nurture her child's talent, but by this time she knew, "She will find her way".

Read the study guide:
I Stand Here Ironing

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question