Who is the narrator, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him? For a few scraps of dialogue here and there, the story is told from inside the narrator's head. In the beginning of the story someone seems to be talking to the mother. We don’t have any evidence as to who it is, but it could be someone from a school interested in helping Emily or it could be a monologue. The mother could be talking over to herself the life of her daughter, Emily. It doesn’t seem the speaker understands Emily better, it just seems she is willing to talk about Emily, oppose to her mother who feels very guilty. Although the mother tries to redeem herself by summarizing Emily’s life she will never total it. “Aren’t you ever gonna finishing ironing, mother?” The mother will never be able to finish ironing because her relationship with Emily will never be smooth. Its logic is governed by the narrator's train of thought. A third-person omniscient narrator, for example, might have given us a more detailed description of the narrator's home and her physical appearance, some insight into what her daughter Emily is really feeling, and more context for the story. Instead, we get a deeply personalized story, shaped not so much by the chronology of events as from the mother's mind as she flits from one worry to another.
First of all, the author enables the reader to identify with the narrator by using the literary technique of a first-person narration. This form often includes an interior monologue. Especially this extract of Tillie Olsen’s “I stand here ironing” is partly an interior monologue. The first-person narrator, a mum of five children, thinks about someone’s offer of help for her oldest daughter. This means the reader gets to know her thoughts and is able to share her feelings, perceptions and reflections. This means that you deal with a limited form of narration.
The mum is a participant in the events she is recounting while ironing. Only the mum’s perspective is adopted, since it presents the action through the eyes of her character only. The reader gets learns about her beloved oldest daughter, Emily, “who was a miracle to her”, growing up. Being nineteen in the “pre-relief, pre-WPA world of depression” and left alone by her husband, her mum had to give her to a neighbor as couldn’t look after her herself. The selected information the reader gets draws attention to the mum’s social conflict of the