Women who did not fit the traditional picture especially those with children, fought to maintain themselves and their families.“A woman will shut herself up in a room until it is taken away from her, and eat a cracker a day and be as quiet as a mouse.” Women had no place to go for assistance when things really got tough they just to dealt with it some even following dead on the street from hunger (Ware, S 2015).
The narrator uses symbolism, flashback, and repetition to show a bereft mother who feels helpless in the decisions regarding her daughter and her hopefully bright future.
The first sentence of the excerpt “I stand here ironing, and what you asked me moves tormented back and forth with the iron” immediately gives the reader some insight on the mother.
The idea of her daughter’s beauty comes up again in the use of repetition when the mother says “She is so lovely… She will find her way.” This statement is said as a self-reassurance for the mother, since she then goes on to remember how her daughter was “seldom smiled at,” and “a child of anxious, not proud, love.” The mother is aware that her daughter has not lived the happiest life possible, but still wants to believe that her daughter will do well in life, and have a better one than she did.
The only way the mother thinks she can help her daughter now is by helping her know “that she is more than this dress on the ironing board, helpless before the iron.” The narrator uses symbolism here again, except now the reader knows that the iron represents the harshness of life and how it can press a person if he succumbs to it, and the daughter is the beautiful article of clothing who is in danger of being pressed into a non-unique scrap in the closet.
It also implies that the mother is not good at making important decisions, or choices in general.
The issue that has entered the mother’s mind is that of her daughter’s future.
The mother has let her life play out without making any attempts at changing it, and hopes her daughter will be different from her and take control of her own life.
This sentiment was expressed through narrative techniques of symbolism, flashback, and repetition, and is one that many parents feel about their children.
For the daughter, however, the mother has some hope.
One of the first things the mother says to the reader is in a flashback about her daughter, saying that “she was a beautiful baby,” and uses repetition to state this sentiment a few paragraphs later.