Who’s Irish?

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A key point I picked out while reading this story, was the conflict between what heritage a foreign child would benefit from. In the story Who’s Irish? by Gish Jen, it appears as if the grandmother is somewhat of a bigot. The reason why I say this is well because, it seems like in every other paragraph, she’s constantly making remarks on how the Chinese heritage is “fierce”, like herself…tough, obedient, and strict in other words. This brings us to the reason of why she is always trying to override her granddaughter, Sophie’s “wild side”, with her Chinese half. The wild side seems to represent the Irish paternal side in Sophie; though the grandmother feels the American way is also quite similar. This is seen when the grandmother describes Amy, Sophie’s old babysitter. Amy was in a way sort of a free spirit, a “creative” American, which would also answer why Amy applauded Sophie’s “creative” behavior on stripping herself of her clothes in the park. Throughout the story we continue to see the grandmother make remarks in regards to Sophie’s behavior; “I am not exaggerate: millions of children in China, not one act like this”(Jen 619). The grandmother’s remarks can even be witnessed by the main character in the short story Two Kinds by Amy Tan . “I didn’t have to do what my mother said anymore…This wasn’t China”(Tan 1228).

The story seems to reflect the American way as a trait of disobedience and odd behavior, from a child to their guardian. When we look at Who’s Irish?, we see Sophie’s disobedience to her grandmother, parents, and elderly strangers. Then, when we look over at the daughter’s actions towards her mother in Two Kinds. I believe even later on in the story we see her mother try to throw in the fact that only “obedient” children can live under her roof. This could be used as a reference towards the point the grandmother was trying to make over in Who’s Irish? Being that the mother in Two Kinds, was also from China, this “obedient” trait could be a key factor most given from child to parent in China.

 

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