Bryn Tomlinson Wk. 5 Form and Meaning.doc

This is an indicator to me that tillie olsen felt she

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This is an indicator to me that Tillie Olsen felt she had done her own share of suffering, and when what she wanted most was to write, she had little time or energy to spend on it or herself. I believe that her story “Silences” was another way in which she could figuratively express her own silence, and that she felt her own ‘voice’ had been muted by motherhood and duty. The relationships that Eva had or the lack of them, with her grown children was also perhaps seen as a byproduct of that duty, where a child’s opinion of a parent is less important to the parent than their ability to feed and clothe them. As a ‘latchkey’ child, and second daughter to parents who would divorce before I reached age 3, I know that family relationships are complicated, and often messy. There is no guarantee that the decisions made will be in your child’s best interests, but when do you consider your own? To some degree, I feel that if my mother had been able to find more life satisfaction for herself, it might have equated to better relationships, and a healthier outlook for all of us. Instead, my mother felt stifled, tied to a job which she usually enjoyed, but also had no choice in continuing, day after day. She looked to her family and sometimes the community to help care for us, and may have felt guilty, but also as though she was dealing with a set of circumstances
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Tomlinson 3 that she had no control in creating. Life handed her an unfair hand, like many others in this world, and she did the best she could; was it perfect, no, but it was enough, it would have to be. We got by, she managed to have a life, but definitely not the one she would have chosen for herself, there was tension, dissension, trials, and tribulations which were traumatizing and will have lifelong affects. But we were in it together, for better or worse, through it all as a family, and I think this is at the heart of what Tillie was trying to convey. In Tillie Olsen’s interview, she also mentions James Agee in reference to his work, “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” in which he states; “A family has only itself” and how he speaks about “your powerlessness as just a family against society.” (Olsen, 1998). In “I Stand Here Ironing”, she expresses her own frustration when she reflects, “when is there time to remember, to sift, to weigh, to estimate, to total? I will start and there will be an interruption and I will have to gather it all together again. Or I will become engulfed with all I did or did not do, with what should have been and what cannot be helped.” (Olsen, 1961).
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