Thursday, August 25, 2011

I Stand Here Ironing (Task 1)

Answer the following questions after reading this text:
  1. Who is the narrator in this story? What is the point of view (first person, limited omniscient narrator, omniscient narrator, interior monologue)?
  2. Who does the narrator seem to be addressing?  (That is, who is the “you” in the first sentence of the short story?)
  3. How old was the mother when she gave birth to Emily, her daughter?
  4. What situation was the young mother in?
  5. In what ways does the mother try to follow the advice of experts? What are the results of following the advice of experts?
  6. What has been the relationship between the woman’s daughters, Emily and Susan? Why?
  7. The mother reviews the many hardships her daughter Emily suffered:  lack of a father’s presence in her early years, a mother distracted by work and poverty and then by other children in the home, sibling rivalry, unpopularity at school, childhood diseases that separated her from her family. How have these hardships affected Emily?
  8. What talent has Emily discovered she has?
  9. How does the mother decide to respond to the request to go to the school to discuss her daughter?  What justifies her response?
  10. What do you think the iron and ironing board symbolize in this story?
(taken from


    1. the number 10th question seems to be complicated to understand and express because there are many thoughts. is the iron, the people around emily and the clothes that are ironed is emily?

    2. These are supposed to be your thoughts. Just write down your thoughts and justify your answers. Looking forward to your insightful thoughts.

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    5. The iron symbolises Emily's mother, or in general, a parent/parents.

      We use an iron to remove wrinkles from fabric. According to the OALD, an iron is a tool with a flat metal base that can be heated and used to make clothes smooth. We know that not all types of clothes can be ironed. Some clothes have low tolerance for heat, so we have to be gentle with them. Materials like cotton and linen on the other hand, require high heat. Therefore, you have to adjust the temperature gauge accordingly lest you burn your most precious dress. Also, you cannot iron your dress or make your clothes smooth if the iron doesn't come in contact with what you intend to iron.

      A parent is looked upon as someone who shapes a child. How does he/she shape the child? It is through the child's upbringing, and often, it involves interaction or communication between them. For a child to grow up to be someone of character, he/she needs a healthy environment to grow in. That's where love comes in. A parent cannot demand too much from a child. A parent cannot compare his child with another, and try to model his child upon someone else. A parent cannot force his will upon his child. Like I've said earlier, if you want to shape a child, you have to interact or communicate with him/her. With plenty of love and consideration for his feelings, the child will turn out fine.

      From this argument, ironing is like raising a child. One can see that the iron represents a parent/parents in general, or in the context of this story, Emily's mother.

      The ironing board symbolises the foundation on which the child's life is built upon. Suffice for me to pose 2 questions for you to ponder : Compare ironing your shirt on a bed (especially if the mattress is already worn and tattered) and ironing on a firm surface such as an ironing board. Do you achieve the same result? And even if you use an ironing board, can you iron anyhow you like without taking into consideration what you are ironing?