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In this story of generational conflict, what side of the family does the author...

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s1lkman | Honors

Posted April 1, 2012 at 6:15 AM via web

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In this story of generational conflict, what side of the family does the author sympathize with.

 

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 8, 2012 at 3:33 PM (Answer #1)

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In the story "Who's Irish", the narrator tells the story from her own point of view, as first person subjective-limited. An omniscient point of view would entail that the narrator can also access the thoughts and inner emotions of each character, which clearly cannot happen in a first person narrative.

This being said, "Who's Irish" is the personal narrative of a Chinese grandmother who lives with her daughter, her son-in-law, and her granddaughter, Sophie.

The problem of the story is that the narrator cannot understand the way that things operate in this cross-cultural and modern family. For instance, the narrator still holds true the very traditions with which she was raised: spanking children supersedes "negotiation", the man is the head and supporter of the household, children are to be seen and not heard, and women do not need to tolerate the failings or weaknesses of men.

Instead, she lives in a household where her Chinese daughter has to earn the bread since her Irish husband is out of employment. Moreover, the narrator is shocked to see that her daughter takes it naturally and is even supportive of it.

"we do not have this word in Chinese, supportive."

Moreover, she witnesses how her "wild" little granddaughter Sophie is allowed to be "herself"; to walk around the house without any clothing when she feels like it, to kick another kid's mom, and to throw sand at the narrator, among other things.

The outcome of this is that the narrator has to move out and ends up living with the Irish mother of her son in law's; a woman with very strong bonds to her own culture and who also understands the dilemma of the main character. For this reason, the narrator feels like an honorary Irishwoman, and apparently loves her new living condition.

When we look back into the story, we see that the narrator obviously prefers things done the "old school" way, to put it colloquially, and she basically "vents" to the reader her shock and frustration. However, you notice that she, actually, does not take sides. She does not conduct a vendetta against her daughter for moving her out. She does not lose any love for the family. She simply comes to us, the readers, to speak out her mind without retributions.

The evidence of this is that she also tells us the upside of the story. She stays with none other than the Irish mother of her son in law. Hence she does not hold grudges against people in particular; she simply tries to understand them. Using humor and pure human emotion, she comes from within her soul to tells us her story as honestly as possible, bringing us to the end with cheer and satisfaction.

This is not a story about contempt, but about surfacing from the wave of changes that envelops of all us.

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