Who's Irish by Gish Jen All Elements of Fiction

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“Who’s Irish” by Gish Jen is a short story about a Chinese grandmother living in America. The grandmother lives with her granddaughter Sophie, her daughter Natalie, and her unemployed, Irish son-in-law John. She describes Sophie as “wild (105)”, and blames her Irish side. She claims: “She is not like any Chinese girl I ever saw (106)”. The grandmother babysits Sophie during the day and believes she should be spanked, even though Natalie and John oppose it. Sophie continues to misbehave and the Grandmother spanks her anyways. One day at the park Sophie climbs into a hole and refuses to get out. The Grandmother pokes her with a stick to try and get her out. When her parents finally get Sophie home they find bruises on her. The grandmother is forbidden to see Sophie after that. The central idea is that being stuck between cultures can be very challenging for a family. The central character is the Grandmother. She describes herself as “fierce (105)” and claims: “The gang members who used to come to the restaurant all afraid of me (107)”. Her husband and daughter escaped from China to America, where they opened a Chinese restaurant, which they came to own before her husband died. She is filled with prejudice, and is disturbed by the laziness of her daughter’s Irish husband and his family. She is not afraid to speak her mind to them: “Even the black people doing better these days (105)” She blames her granddaughter’s Irish side for her behavior problems, and strongly believes children should be spanked. After she is exposed for spanking Sophie, she moves into her son-in-law’s mother, Bess’s house. She respects Bess for being such a strong woman. Bess says that the central character has become “honorary Irish (110)” while living with her. The central character is dynamic, because in the end she learns that she cannot always judge people on their cultural background. The supporting characters are her family members, both her immediate family and her son-in-laws family...
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