This story ¡§Who¡¦s Irish?¡¨ was written in 1999 by Gish Jen who is a second generation of Chinese American. As a daughter of Chinese immigrants, she deeply perceived the culture difference. ¡§Who¡¦s Irish?¡¨ is also based on her identity. Told by an immigrant Chinese grandmother, this story is full of thoughts and feelings of being a grandmother. Through the perspective of the grandmother, we can understand the inner thoughts and emotions of the protagonist.
The point of view focuses on the grandmother. The story begins by talking about her background. It is arranged in chronological order. First, the narrator¡¦s granddaughter is introduced and then her family background. The narrator describes herself as ¡§fierce¡¨. Everyone is afraid of her. Her daughter is somewhat like her mom at least she is also ¡§fierce¡¨ because she is a bank vice president, but her granddaughter is wild, not like her daughter or herself. In the grandmother¡¦s opinion, if her granddaughter Sophie does not act like other Chinese girls, she is wild. In other words, the narrator seems to think people coming from a different culture are weird. After that, the narrator talked about her son-in-law. She thought she did not understand him because he could neither find a job nor look after Sophie. Grandmother said,¡¨Plain boiled food, plain boiled thinking. Even his name is plain boiled: John¡¨ (206). At this point, she somewhat despised her son-in-law, John. He is a white person who can speak English. There is no way he can not find a job. Besides, the grandmother always felt the culture gap. ¡§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¡¨ (208). She did not understand why the ex-babysitter let Sophie get naked and run around. Creativity did not mean anything to her. There was no such a word in Chinese. In addition, she told her daughter ¡§We do not have this word in Chinese, supportive¡¨ (206).the narrator thought the daughter should take care of mother. However, mother should help her daughter with the culture in the United States.
The style of language is one of the devices to convey the theme of diversity. The grandmother said, ¡§I am work hard my whole life, and fierce besides¡¨ (205). The writer uses wrong grammar such as incomplete sentence, inappropriate tenses, and misused words to give us an odd feeling to the grandmother. In addition, ¡§My daughter tell me I should not say Irish this, Irish that¡¨ (205). The narrator always uses English with Chinese style to show that she is a traditional grandmother who has not totally accepted American culture. ¡§When Sophie go shu-shu, in her lap, Amy laugh and say there are no germs in pee¡¨ (208). Jen also uses Chinese slang to represent going pee. As a result, the readers realize this grandmother is totally Chinese who just lives in a different place.
Characterization is also a technique the writer used in this story. The narrator is a grandmother. Besides, there are four characters in this story: Natalie, Sophie, John, and Bess. The story mainly involves five characters. The grandmother is the central character. This is a story of gaps, which includes culture gaps, age gaps, communication gaps, and gaps of family relationships. Those gaps are revealed by grandmother spanking Sophie. The grandmother tried her best to stop Sophie taking off her clothes. She even did not feed Sophie to make her stop doing it. However, her daughter, Natalie did not agree with her. She asked her mom to use words instead. However, the narrator insisted on using Chinese fashion. The conflict comes to a crisis when the willful Sophie reacted to the strains to her grandmother. When Sophie played with the narrator in the park, she threw sand at her grandmother. The narrator got angry and scolded her. Sophie got scared and did not go out of the foxhole. Finally, Sophie¡¦s parents...