The aim of this paper is to analyze the relationships of mothers and daughters on specific examples of Emily’s mother in “I Stand Here Ironing” and Maggie and Dee’s mother in “Everyday Use” context. The idea is to compare and contrast the behavior of both mothers in their family setting. A special attention is paid to the similarities and differences of both heroines in the stories. This paper is going to address the characters, conflict situations, actions, time and place setting, symbols as well as the concepts of the relationships in the families along with their intensions for life.
The thesis for the paper observes both stories starting from the titles and authors and continuing to the important aspects of identity illustrated in the plots. It identifies the similarities and differences of the relationships between mothers and daughters in the stories. The purposes of the essay are to argument and interpret the ideas and characters of the scenarios, claim and opinion the characters and share the motive for the people who have children. Thus, it turns out to be an unconditional analysis of the relationships of mothers and their daughters in both stories.
The first story by Alice Walker is called the “Everyday Use”. It represents an example of the family relations where Dee turns out to be a rare guest in the house of her mother and sister. The story also tells the reader about how Dee hates her life in this family. One time there was a situation when the author hints that Dee sets a fire in a house that almost kills Maggie. Based on these circumstances, Mrs. Johnson finds money with the help of the local church and sends Dee to school. In contrast, Maggie studies at home with her mother. Meanwhile, Maggie meets a farmer and wishes to marry him. One day Dee comes with him to her mother and sister with the purpose to take some family possessions aiming to use them for her arts center. She claims that she will use them with the artistic intension. Maggie happens to object about this but Dee continues asking for more – the piecemeal bed linen of the grandmother. The story becomes even more interesting when the author reveals that this linen was promised to Maggie as the gift for her wedding. This time Dee protests stating that Maggie will make it an “every day” use and will ruin it entirely. Now there happens to be a dilemma for the mother about who deserves for the linen. Nevertheless, she takes it from Dee and gives it to Maggie. Seeing this, Dee shouts at her mother claiming that she does not understand her heritage and leaves the house. The mother and Maggie stay home contemplating about what happened while staying together (Walker 2002).
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This story turns out to be a struggle for the identity of both daughters towards their mother. The situation in a family addresses the family conflict between the mother and two daughters. Mrs. Johnson represents a poor woman who works hard to feed her family while trying to help her daughters understand each other. The character of Dee depicts a sophisticated and stylish person, who proofs this after she decides to marry a farmer, and comes to her mother in a fancy dress with gold earrings and dangling bracelets. She behaves to provoke her mother, and take a second name of her boyfriend, stating that she does not deserve for a slave name of her mother. The situation becomes more interesting when Maggie shows her character in the manner of the peaceful maker and tells the mother to give the linen to Dee, which plays a significant role in the decision of their mother. As a result, Dee exposes her ignorance to pursue the heritage of her mother and leaves. Whereas the mother and Maggie stay home enjoying the time of each other, and thus claim that they are willing to have peaceful relationships with not much ambitions but harmony (Walker 2002).
A second story by Tillie Olsen is called “I Stand Here Ironing.” It addresses the example of one mother and daughter struggling with each other while her mother stands ironing. This becomes a symbol of the story in the long run. The story describes a hard life of the family where the mother has to make ends meet to feed her daughter Emily. Such family circumstances turn out to the need of mother to leave Emily with other people for a significant amount of time. A distance between the mother and her daughter create a gap in their relationships and understanding of each other. The very prominent example could be the fact that Emily does not like the hugs from her mother when they finally meet each other. With this, the mother loves Emily with all her heart but cannot take care of her the way she wants. Time passes and the new members come to their family. Through the years, the relationships of the mother and her daughter turn to a dead–end, and the worst thing is that the mother regrets about the brining up of Emily that happen to be this way, which spoils their stressful relationships. The suffering and guilt of mother makes Emily feel pain in the same way. Such a situation is made worse with all the daily routine and worthiness in their relations. In contrast, the mother compares herself with her sister Susan who has the perfect “Shirley Temple” image. This explains the beginning of the story where mother stands and irons and someone asked if she could help Emily somehow. In this case, the fact of ironing is the only way to calm down her feelings and grief about the troubles of the family and relationships. In fact, ironing takes time to think about life and the ways to overcome the problems she faced during her life in the time of Great Depression (Olsen 2008).
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This story illustrates several characters such as the narrator, Emily, the teacher and Susan. The main idea of the narrator is to address the communication of mothers and daughters, when they love each other, but could not understand and accept the rules they set for themselves. Emily is a daughter who her mother cannot understand as she cannot find the key to a better communication. The teacher asks a question in the very beginning of the story asking the reader to think of the time to stay with the family and simply talk to each other. Finally, Susan turns out to be one of children from the first father’s marriage who leaves the family in the years of Great Depression. The author states that Susan is an opposite character to Emily. In addition, the story reveals the very keen elements of the theme such as women and femininity, the art of communication, poverty and power. The story’s title seems to represent the way of life for the majority of people that time when they stand ironing and thinking about their miserable lives. In contrast, the position of power addresses those people who did not follow the rules of life during the Great Depression and escaped from the poverty on different levels of existence. The paper symbolizes the allegory in the place of the struggle for the essentials of life in an indefinite setting. The story gives an idea to think about the personal life and draw a conclusion to strive for the better while standing and ironing (Olsen 2008).
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To conclude, both stories illustrate the poor life of different people and characters. The idea is to understand the nature of communication between the mothers and daughters. In both stories, there are various conflicts and misunderstanding. For example, Dee and Maggie had difficult time understanding each other and live in peace with their mother in comparison to Emily and her mother. The actions of both stories are to find a way to reveal the true nature of daughters and mothers during the long years of suffering. The symbols are the linen and ironing, and they both represent the point of concern, where the mothers have to think about relationships and feelings to their daughters. The plot of both stories turns out to be an irony in the results that children from both stories are trying to achieve. For example, Dee and Maggie are struggling for the family belongings and Emily is willing to have some support and understanding. These factors turn out to be a thesis for the stories that have many aspects in common. Thus, the most important similarity in both stories is the inability to find the means of communication and mutual understanding while living in a hard time. Meanwhile, the most significant difference is that the final point of both stories is different. In the “Everyday Use” the concluding part of the story is that at least some of the family members managed to find ways to communication and cope with each other. The other side of the same situation lies in the “I Stand Here Ironing” where the mother suffers during her life and ends up contemplating about her miserable end with no hint for the possible improvements.
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In all, the experience of communication between the mother and daughter is hard to pursue since it distinguishes a whole lot of elements that could only be illustrated on various examples. This paper takes time to understand the nature of all women and their critical opinion of themselves as well as their personal characteristics when talking about the connection of mothers and daughters. The idea is to comprehend the critical perceptions of women, their self-relation along with the concept of female development, including the internal interactions with other people. The overall opinion is based on the difficulties in the process of dealing with each other in a dynamic family atmosphere.
As a final point, if the family is claiming to be named so, all the members have to learn how to communicate with each other, make the first move in any quarrel, be realistic, learn to forgive, attentively listen to the other person and try to balance the life by means of individual efforts towards close relationships and strong feelings (Fingerman 2003).
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