Why does the narrator say that Emily is "a child of her age, of depression, of war, of fear?" Emily is a child of her age of depression, of war, of fear?

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sagetrieb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Emily was born during the depression, and the mother had to leave her with neighbors when she went to work. Although she nursed her daughter, she did so according to a rigid schedule because that was what she was advised to do. Little Emily cried, but the mother did not respond because she was following the rules. Emily did not want to go to nursery school, but the mother felt compelled to send her because that is what was expected. Frequently, the mother did what she needed to do or what was expected of her with the long result of not being sufficiently available to her daughter as she was growing up. During the war, the mother was busy sending letters to her husband or preoccupied worrying about him, again her attention diverted from her child to something else. Having other children complicated this relationship even more. Her statement Emily was a “child of depression, her age, war, and fear” speaks to all of these: the pressures of life lived by the mother, a well-meaning mother afraid to break the rules the age assigned to mothering and do as her gut desired. Yet, Emily turns out sufficiently alright, and at the end the narrator excuses herself for not being a perfect mother, recognizing she was a “good enough” mother. She ends hoping her daughter knows she not like the dress she is ironing, the dress a metaphor for herself as a young mother, submitting to the pressures of life without sufficient resistance

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I Stand Here Ironing

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