Title

Tillie Olsen: Redefinining Motherhood in the 30's and 50's

Document Type

Thesis

Publication Date

1995

Advisor

Mara Faulkner

Abstract

I studied mothers in the work of Tillie Olsen looking primarily at two of her short stories, "I Stand Here Ironing" and "Tell Me A Riddle," and her novel, Yonnondio. I used both historical and feminist approaches when looking at these works. I discovered that Olsen creates mothers that did not meet the expectations of the times, the 1930s or the 1950s, but that did not mean the mothers failed. Rather, Olsen depicts mothers that succeed despite the pressures of society, husbands, and children. Finally, I discovered that mothers today are not free from some of the same expectations, and likewise, they are not failures.

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