Piquette, however, is offered attention and kindness when she is at the Diamond Lake cottage, but, rather than accept it, she continues to isolate herself. Another conflict the girls have in common is that they aren’t given the care they need and are forced to grow up fast resulting in a shorter childhood making the search for their identity even harder. In “The Loons”, Piquette is in an ongoing conflict with the society in which she lives.Her family is said to be “French half-breeds” and they are different then the rest of the families that live around them. In the story, Vanessa’s grandmother says, “… if that half-breed youngster comes along to Diamond Lake, I’m not going…” (Laurence 198) Piquette’s family was scorned by society before she was even born making it difficult for her while she was growing up. This conflict contributes to the theme because it makes Piquette’s identity even harder to find since she grew up thinking that she is different and isn’t wanted in the world.In “I Stand Here Ironing”, Emily, like Piquette, also feels she does not belong to the society in which she lives.
In the story, Emily’s mother says, “She fretted about her appearance, thin and dark and foreign-looking at a time when every little girl was supposed to look or thought she should look a chubby blonde replica of Shirley Temple” ( Olsen 266). This difference makes Emily feel isolated from everyone and very self conscious about her appearance. Emily, as well as Piquette, had difficulty finding her identity because she was also scorned by society making her feel isolated and alone.Piquette and Emily also go through conflicts that are not similar on their journey to find their identities. Piquette, from the story “The Loons”, is in a conflict with Vanessa while she is staying with Vanessa’s family at the cottage at Diamond Lake. Vanessa continuously tries to include Piquette in everything, but Piquette isolates herself and she doesn’t accept the attention she is given. Vanessa asks Piquette to come listen to the loons with her on the beach but Piquette’s response is, “Who gives a good goddamn? ” (Laurence 200).
Piquette’s voluntary isolation makes her search for her identity even harder.In “I Stand Here Ironing”, Emily is in an ongoing conflict with her mother. Emily thrives for attention from her mother, but receives none. Her mother was always too busy trying to support Emily and care for her other children that she never has the opportunity to give Emily the attention that she needs. Emily communicated her need for attention and love to her mother by crying. She cried to her mother as a baby when her mother would not feed her when she became hungry. Emily would also cry for her mother’s attention when she was picked up at her babysitter’s house.
The mother says, “…when she saw me she would break into a clogged weeping that could not be comforted, a weeping I can hear yet” (Olsen 263). Once Emily knows that her crying will not result in the attention she wants she becomes silent and keeps to herself. This silence makes Emily’s search for her identity harder as well because she didn’t open up to anyone. Throughout Emily and Piquette’s childhood both girls aren’t cared for enough by their parents and are forced to grow up faster then typical girls their age, making it harder for both girls to find their own identities.In “The Loons”, Piquette isn’t cared for by her father and her mother isn’t there. Piquette has tuberculosis of the bone, but it won’t get any better because whenever she goes home from the hospital, her father, Lazerus, never lets her get the rest she needs. Piquette’s doctor, Vanessa’s father, says “Piquette cooks for them, and she says Lazarus would never do anything for himself as long as she’s there” (Laurence 197).
She is forced to be the mother figure of her house when she is still much too young for this responsibility.Emily, in “I Stand Here Ironing”, also is not given the care she needs and is forced to grow up faster than other girls her age. Emily’s mother is always preoccupied with other things such as work and her other children to give Emily the attention and love that she needs. In the story, her mother tells the reader, “She had to help be a mother, and housekeeper, and shopper” (Olsen 267). These responsibilities make her childhood and her ability to find who she was in the world very difficult.