Summary of short story “Who’s Irish”
“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. The grandmother always thinks that Sophie is a “wild child” and she always blames her Irish side and her former baby sitter, Amy. She often said that Sophie is not like the other Chinese girl that she ever saw. She babysits Sophie during the days and believes that she should be spanked, but her daughters Natalie completely disagree about her opinion. She said that “in America parents not supposed to spank the child, it gives them low self esteem”. Natalie preferred to use words than spanks to changing her daughter’s misbehavior.
Someday the grandmother spanks Sophie because she takes off her clothes again and the spank makes Sophie cried. Sophie’s changed immediately and obeys the grandmother the next day. But the big problem comes in the playground when Sophie’s hide in the foxhole and throw a shovel full of sand to her grandmother. The grandmothers get mad and yell at Sophie to come out, but Sophie doesn’t want come out from the hole, she shouted at the grandmother that she hate her, and call her “Meanie”, the grandmother start to pokes her with a stick. Until it’s getting dark Sophie still hiding, the grandmother keep poke her until John and Natalie comes and saw what the grandmother have done to their daughter. John wiggles under the structure, into the foxhole to rescue Sophie. As they come to the house, Natalie find out that Sophie’s skin is full of bruise and her eyes are swollen. Since then, the grandmother is forbidden to see her granddaughter. The grandmother finally moves into her son-in-law’s mother, Bess’s house.
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