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Tillie Olsen’s and Tracey Baran’s Novels Review

The world of literature presupposes a versatile diversity of characters and manners of literal execution; the world of painting is a field where eye perception plays a great role. The thing which unites these two kinds of art is the implementation of entire ideas of problematic issues in life. This paper is dedicated to enlightening the problem maintained and elaborated in two works: 1) a short story “I Stand Here Ironing” by Tillie Olsen; 2) a picture “Mom Ironing” by Tracey Baran. The analysis includes the points of compared and contrasting characteristic traits. A distinctive feature of every kind of comparison and/or contrast of two objects is that sooner or later two different matters by different authors begin having many traits in common. This helps to encompass, in fact, the world of art and literature, particularly. The message of every work inspired by a devoted author contains a great number of moral values or reasonable points on a theme of social, economic, or political issues which represent the entire reality of the development of human beings at a definite stage of it.

First of all, the scheduled unity is incorporated in the titles of both works. It makes the first and most reliable peculiarity of the comparison. The thing is that these two works of art are separated in their type and the first one is a short story executed in the style and manner of modernism, the second one is a photo that actually projects a vivid outlook on the problem inserted into the discourse of both works. Here comes the opposition in graphical perception, as, for instance, a reader can have more information about the characters in the story, about their moods, etc. On the other hand, the picture gives ground for more reasoning and making out of the problem arise.

Ironing is a process in which the entire picture of what a woman should go through is displayed. Women are struggling in most cases because of men’s irresponsibility and narrow-mindedness according to the main aims, which the family should reach afterward. This theme is placed in both works with special glimpses of authors on the various coloring of roles which are outlined in the story and on the snapshot. A tiresome expression on mothers’ faces as outlined due to the different roles in contrast with daughters illuminated in a bit darker description. This is so because of the terrific and anxious feelings of a mother in terms of whether she is able and credible enough to pay her daughter more attention and care, as a good mother should implement in reality. Thus, in Olsen’s story mother is frustrated a bit and, in fact, “she does not smile easily.” (Davey, p. 267) In contrast, the picture evaluates this theme with a mere despondent expression on the mother’s face.

The problem of reciprocal attitudes is touched here with the purpose to evaluate the results of such relationships in the family. The story is good because many of the details are outlined and explained with glimpses on the transition periods in parent-children relations. Tillie Olsen follows here several techniques in order to provide more expressive means and emotional coloring for a reader. Thus, she uses a stream-of-consciousness technique and one more specific feature of narrating in the first, second, and third person. This, in contrast, provides more information data for an ordinary observer of a problem that arises in the story. Moreover, Olsen adheres to the philosophical approaches claimed and prescribed by Henry Bergson while the time limits are lost and the short scene of ironing is described with prospects of previous events concerning the process of the gradual upbringing of the daughter Emily.

The daughters seem to feel disguise according to their so-called satisfaction with mothers’ attention and provision them with everything necessary, but, in fact, it bears a bit of hidden sense indicating the breakdown of any trust and reliability. They are obliged, as tradition insists, to obey what the mother says or asks, but they do not even suspect that the mother is uneasy about the problem of her inefficient parenting provided. This characteristic feature in both works is stressed with the thoroughly intended process of ironing which is described. Here this very process serves as a mechanism or tool for better reasoning about life and all pros and cons which it requires. The fact that the mother in Olsen’s story was young and irresponsible (Davey, p. 269) for her daughter is quite grave in contrast with Baran’s picture.

One more similar thing according to the objects discussed is that mother is thinking constantly looking at and reminding all deeds which should be done until the end of a day in which the scene occurs. It is hard for them to make everything alone without husbands – the theme which contrasts in both works, because, in the case with Baran’s picture, there is no mentioning of a father or details which can state it as well as in Olsen’s work. It is a peculiar thing that in ironing one motive can be singled out, it is an urge of mother to teach her daughter a lesson, but it seems to be without any sort of efficacy because mother’s thinking of her daughter as a little girl and wonderful baby cannot make her think of where she is to find those impacts being helpful in the realization of her goals as a parent. She looks helpless because understands that only love and presence are not enough, the entire value of communication is a core element for making connections with children and overcoming the constantly increasing distance of the “generation gap.” It is presented in both works, especially in the picture where the place of the daughter’s location is darkened.

Moreover, the hardship of the mother is underlined due to the atmosphere and scenes in the room where the scene takes place. Poor interior and things which are placed in the room along with the clothes of both mother and daughter are distinctive features of the economic limitations and financial deadlock in which these families appeared to be. It is one more point that unites both works and authors’ ideas on the metaphorical description of the harsh reality of a woman being responsible also for her children. Also, Tillie Olsen describes the results of insufficient parenting due to the fact that her daughter was not successful at school and was a “slow learner.” (Davey, p. 269).

To sum up, the relational similarity of both works by Tillie Olsen and Tracey Baran represents a specific value for the artistic heritage and understanding of socially-related things as for the figures of authority and their limits of significance from the side of children being subdued to parents. The points of the similarity between two objects are rather predominantly outlined with glimpses on Baran’s continuation of what Olsen started to depict. The point is that only women could relate to the extent of the problematic relationships between mother and daughter. Also, the talents of the two authors coincide in the noble intentions to make the concept of mutual understanding in the family even if the person which should bear the role of a leader, I mean father, is absent. The controversial characters of mother and daughter make one more additional emphasis on the harmony significance in the family as well as women’s tolerance in it.


  1. Davey, Moyra. Mother reader: essential writings on motherhood. Seven Stories Press, 200, Olsen, Tillie ‘I stand here ironing’, 265-272
  2. Schwartz, Bruce R. Olsen, Tillie. ‘I Stand Here Ironing’. Films for the Humanities & Sciences. Films for the Humanities & Sciences, 1998
  3. Baran, Tracey. ‘Mom Ironing’. 1997.

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