The story “Who’s Irish?” was authored by Gish Jen. In fact, it revolves around a senior woman of Chinese extraction. The woman lives in the United States of America and tries to assist her daughter and her family in rearing her granddaughter called Sophie. She has to endure the reality of her inability to discipline Sophie so that she can be appropriately raised like a Chinese girl (Jen, 2012). Furthermore, she is not getting help from Sophie's mother who seems to be in support of the girl's tendencies. Admittedly, the struggle is caused by conflicting cultures that the three characters encounter with. The issue of cultural conflict is a common problem for most immigrants who move to the United States of America (Choi, 2016). In essence, Natalie, her mother and her daughter Sophie have to deal with the common problem of conflicting cultural values of Irish and Chinese people in the story.

Sophie's grandmother repeatedly faces the issue of cultural conflict. For example, she struggles in her bid to ensure that her daughter and granddaughter do not abandon Chinese culture. As a result, this pursuit leads to disputes and disagreements with Sophie's mother, Natalie. The grandmother feels that Sophie is not being raised well by being shown the right ways of the Chinese culture. Therefore, she tries to intervene that results in her spanking the girl when she behaves ‘wildly' in her view (Ho, 2015). Additionally, old woman also denies her granddaughter food so that she acts like a ‘proper' Chinese girl.

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Moreover, she conflicts with Natalie who seems to approve of the Irish culture that is in favor of the idea that a mother should support her daughter even in adult age. Therefore, the grandmother protests when Natalie tells her that she is not supportive, insisting that in China such a word does not exist (Jen, 2012). It can be deduced that the grandmother’s views emanate from the Chinese belief that a mother should show her family the right way of life. After all, they do care much about the lives of one another. The old woman struggles with the new life in which a mother has to take care of the grown daughter. Thus, she tries to deal with this situation by protesting against its adoption by fellow Chinese. Likewise, the Irish culture that she comes into contact with through Natalie’s marriage to an Irish makes her conflict with people from this cultural background. For example, she claims that Irish culture, unlike the ‘more superior' Chinese culture, makes John, her son-in-law, too lazy to get a permanent job.

Similarly, Natalie also has to reconcile herself to the fact that she is conflicted about the traditional Chinese way of life and the culture that America represents. For example, she shows selfishness that is disapproved by Chinese according to her mother. The act of her sending her mother out of her house after nagging about the way she leads a life devoid of Chinese practices also illustrates the old woman's view (Lu, 2017). Consequently, her mother reprimands her for this. Principally, Natalie is expecting her mother to do a considerable amount of favors for her but does not want the old woman to interfere with her family.


All this is underscored when Natalie feels that her mother should not intervene in her method of disciplining Sophie. According to her, some of the Chinese ways of punishing children, such as spanking them, are destructive because they can lead to a feeling of low self-esteem in Sophie (Jen, 2012). All these actions make Natalie’s mother perceive her as someone who does not respect the Chinese culture; thus, leading to the conflict between them. As a result, she tries to adjust to the problems caused by different values that she and her mother uphold by protesting her mother's decisions as shown when she opposes her intention to help instill discipline in Sophie. The other case in which Natalie demonstrates cultural conflict is when she has to defend her husband and his brothers against her mother's accusations that they are laid-back, just like all Irish people. At this point, she resists the customary way of life that stipulates that a daughter should always protect her mother. Thus, this can be seen as a way of protesting the traditional Chinese principle because of the Irish traditions.

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As well, Sophie has to deal with the conflict between Chinese and Irish cultures in which she matures. She is constantly in battle with her grandmother who reprimands her for her style of life that is contrary to the Chinese way. Often, she is called ‘wild' and her behavior is unlike that of millions of children in China (Jen, 2012). To begin with, she seems to be intolerant to the dictates of the Chinese culture that her grandmother represents. Furthermore, though she is a mixture of Chinese and Irish descent, she seems to disregard and protest against the way Chinese impose punishments on their children. A perfect example of this is shown when her grandmother spanks her. Sophie does not take it positively the way she is expected by her grandmother's culture (O' Leary, 2014).

On the contrary, she shows abhorrence of this act when she hides in a fox hole and throws some dirt on her grandmother. Indeed, this can be understood as an act of revenge and objection to the conservative Chinese culture. Nonetheless, she gets more physically assaulted when her grandmother finds her in the hole and pokes at her with a stick; thus, inflicting her with bruises. Her family also objects such kind of punishment. By and large, while the narrator supposes that beating is conventional in instilling discipline in Sophie, her daughter argues that the use of words would be better (Jen, 2012). The outcome of this is a more tense relationship that Sophie's tendencies create between the ways of the Chinese, which are represented by her grandmother, and the Irish ways that are symbolized by her father and mother. As such, it is understandable that Sophie struggles with the problem of cultural diversity in her family. She reacts to this in different ways that include a show of intolerance to her grandmother’s culture by fighting it back.

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To conclude, the story “Who’s Irish?” presents the grandmother, her daughter, and her granddaughter as characters that have to deal with the problem of cultural conflict. The three find themselves in the mix of both Chinese and Irish cultures. Consequently, they have to handle the issues of family relations such as the way of imposing punishment on children that is dictated differently by the two cultures. As well, they are faced with the issue of who is to take care of other members of the family, for the cultural stipulations of the two backgrounds seem to explain it in a different way. The conflicted lives of these characters lead them to adjust to such realities in various ways that include a show of disdain and protest. More importantly, the intolerance against the opposing cultures creates serious tension that threatens to break the relationship between the narrator and the Irish family of her son-in-law.

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