Reading Response to “Who’s Irish?”

I found Gish Jen’s short story, “Who’s Irish” to be a very entertaining story. I found the protagonist to be a very strong hard worker yet a sarcastic humorous woman. She describes herself as “fierce”. Together with her husband she owned a restaurant. She stated that everyone feared her even the gang members, who would come asking for protection money, hid behind the menu when they saw her. I quickly noted that the story is told in the protagonist point of view and isn’t written in proper English. I’m not entirely sure why the author wrote it this way. Perhaps it is to help the reader better understand the protagonist’s character, an attempt to get in us in her mind.

The protagonist remains unnamed throughout the story. She has a daughter named Natalie. Natalie is a successful career woman, also described as “fierce”. Yet she differs greatly from her mother. I find this intriguing. Perhaps its because she has assimilated in America’s culture set of mind. Natalie has a husband John that appears to be lazy and can’t keep a job. Natalie is the head of the household while John spends his time being depressed and working out in the gym. John seems to be very different in comparison to Natalie’s father. I wonder why Natalie puts up with a “man” like this.

One of the most intriguing things I noted from this story is that the protagonist states that in China the words creative and supportive are not talked about in China! The protagonist states “In China, we talk about whether we have difficulty or no difficulty. We talk about whether life is bitter or not bitter. In America, all day long, people talk about creative.” Another thing I wonder is how did Sophie come out so brown?




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