Long has the image of the traditional American family been stamped into our minds.
The image of a perfect family has been a staple for popular television shows and commercials hawking everything from luncheon meat to microwaveable TV dinners. It is a far reaching concept known by almost anyone living in the country, all over the world and people considering immigrating to the US. It is a fabricated dream, which does not truly exist. It is merely a false goal, striving to achieve this standard, and the aesthetic of the lifestyle is one which has been heavily marketed and changes frequently with the times.
Sports utility vehicles, pristine lawns, massive backyards and home security systems are marketed as necessities for the modern American family.
Traditionally, the ideal American family subsists of a working father, a housewife, two or more children, and a pet. The son is in little league or is the captain of the team, the daughter is a beauty queen and the pet is a golden retriever. The house is usually located in a suburb or small town, and has a two car garage. They are generally on good terms with their neighbors. Often the family as a whole encompasses “wholesome American ideals” such as supporting the Republican party, supporting military action, and attending church regularly.
Economically, the family is well off and can afford the families needs and much more. The archetypal American family is usually white, and only recently has the presentation expanded to showing multiple ethnicities and economic situations. In reality, American families come from different countries, different economic backgrounds, embrace different ideals concerning government, morality and life. The scope of a real American family is not limited to the experiences of the rich Caucasian family.
A set of circumstances contrary to the American dream is that of the family in I Stand Here Ironing. Their situation on many levels is the opposite of the “ideal” American family.
The story is about a young mother who’s husband leaves her, saying he could no longer bear sharing want with them. So initially, she and her daughter are in a bad position. As a single mother during the era of the Depression, work was hard to come by. She often had to leave her young child with neighbors while she was out looking for a job. Her opportunities were limited with her being an unwed, young mother. So when she found work, she was forced to give care of her daughter to the father’s family and later on was placed into a care facility with questionable conditions.
As a result, the daughter suffered in her formative years. She didn’t have the money to hire a nanny or a husband to support her while she stayed to take care of the baby. Aside from being sickly, her relationship with her mother suffered. At times she was emotionally detached from her mother and her capacity for learning was somewhat hindered.
This situation illustrates a non typical family compared to the standard American family.
A girl growing up in the traditional American family would be in a comfortable situation.
During her early months her parents could pay for child care that is not sub standard like that which Emily attended. Typically, her budding relationship between mother and child would not be severed or disrupted by the circumstances created by other factors such as the mother leaving her child while she was working. The child would be close to her mother emulating from her and learning from her. Her mother and father are financially well off, so if the daughter shows any signs of psychological trouble they can choose to send her to a therapist. For Emily, the daughter in I Stand Here Ironing, she was mired in despair, forced to live away from home with her father’s relatives, stuck living in a repressive boarding house, all the while her health was suffering. She became sickly as her appetite was gone for long periods of time, particularly during her stay in the boarding house.
Later on in her life she had constant nightmares probably due to the trauma she experienced throughout her life. The stress these situations put on .