"I Stand Here Ironing" 3x3

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Storyboard Description

This storyboard depicts three main themes from Tillie Olsen's "I Stand Here Ironing." The first, beauty lacks governability, is supported by Emily's inability to control her physical appearance, which is stressed multiple times throughout the story. The second, that loss promotes growth, can be seen in Emily no longer needing her mother's comfort after being denied it for so long, as well as in the development of her special comedic talent, which became noticeable during times of sadness and stress. The last, that life defies expectation, is supported by Emily's sudden contraction of chicken pox, as well as in her father leaving her mother, and in her ironic special talent that highlights and contrasts with her typical shyness.

Storyboard Text

  • Beauty lacks governability.
  • She was a beautiful baby. The first and only one of our five that was beautiful at birth. You do not guess how new and uneasy her tenancy in her now-loveliness. You did not know all those years she was thought homely, or see her poring over her baby pictures, making me tell her over and over how beautiful she had been...
  • Loss promotes growth.
  • ... night after night she had nightmares. She would call for me, and I would... call back: "You're all right, darling, go to sleep..." Now when it is too late... I get up and go to her at once at her moan or restless stirring.
  • "No, I'm all right, go back to sleep, Mother."
  • "Are you awake, Emily? Can I get you something?"
  • Life defies expectation.
  • After a while I found a job hashing at night so I could be with her days, and it was better. But it came to where I had to bring her to his family and leave her. It took a long time to raise the money for her fare back. Then she got chicken pox and I had to wait longer. When she finally came, I hardly knew her, walking quick and nervous like her father, looking like her father, thin, and dressed in a shoddy red that yellowed her skin and glared at the pockmarks.
  • I am glad for that slow physical development that widened the difference between her and her contemporaries... She tormented herself enough about not looking like the others, there was enough of the unsureness... the constant caring - what are they thinking of me? without having it all magnified by the merciless physical drives.
  • What are they thinking of me?
  • There was so little time left at night after the kids were bedded down... Sometimes, to make me laugh, or out of her despair, she would imitate happenings or types at school. I think I said once: "Why don't you do something like this in the school amateur show?"
  • One morning she phoned me at work, hardly understandable through the weeping...
  • "Mother, I did it. I won, I won; they gave me first prize; they clapped and clapped and wouldn't let me go."
  • She began to be asked to perform at other high schools, even in colleges, then at city and statewide affairs. The first one we went to, I only recognized that first moment when thin, shy, she almost drowned herself into the curtains. Then: ...
  • "Was this Emily? The control, the command, the convulsing and deadly clowning..."
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