I Stand Here Ironing

by Tillie Olsen

Start Free Trial

Topics for Discussion

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

1. Which aspects of this story would be different if it were set today and which would be unchanged?

2. How accurate or reliable do you suppose the mother's understanding of her relationship with her daughter actually is? What makes you think so?

3. Most married women in the 1950s were not employed outside the home, but the responsibilities of full-time housework and rearing younger children often limited their involvement with their older children, as described in "I Stand Here Ironing." How does this compare and contrast with modern society, in which most married women work outside the home?

4. Identify one key incident in the narrator's relationship with her daughter and describe why you think it is the most important element of the story in defining their relationship.

5. What does the narrator mean when she expresses hope that Emily will realize that "she is more than this dress on the ironing board, helpless before the iron"? What are Emily's prospects for education, employment, marriage, or motherhood?

6. The narrator describes her younger daughter, Susan, as a better student, better-looking, and more popular than Emily; the mother further suggests that because Susan was raised in a more nurturing environment, she would inevitably outshine her older half-sister. How reliable is this assessment, and what does it reveal about the mother?

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Ideas for Reports and Papers


Topics for Further Study