In what particular moment or event in “Who’s Irish?” does the story’s point of view contribute to the moment’s significance? In other words, what is the writer able to accomplish at this moment because of the point of view that may not have been possible had the story been told from a different perspective?

“Who’s Irish?” includes several significant moments or related events shaped by the point of view. As the story presents discrete incidents regarding the narrator’s caring for her granddaughter, the cultural clashes among generations of different national backgrounds are increasingly heightened. The climax involves the grandmother’s dilemma when the little girl disappears on the playground. The first-person perspective shapes that incident because the reader learns the narrator’s reasons for particular interactions with the child.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Gish Jen’s story “Who’s Irish?” takes places during a period when a grandmother, who immigrated from China, is providing childcare for her daughter’s young daughter. The story is told in first-person perspective, with the grandmother as the narrator. She conveys the communications and cultural gaps that exist between her and the child’s parents, both of whom were born and raised in the United States. One outstanding feature of the grandmother’s attitude is her emphasis on boundaries and discipline. This stands in marked contrast to the mother and father, who are permissive and encourage the child to explore and learn by experimentation.

Although a significant incident occurs when the grandmother snaps and spanks the girl, which is absolutely forbidden, the key event is more ambiguous. As the narrator is watching her granddaughter at the park one day, the little girl temporarily disappears. She does not come to any harm, but the grandmother is alarmed when she discovers her hiding in a hole. From her perspective, extending a stick into the hole to reach the child makes sense. To the parents, it looks like she is poking the girl with the intent of injuring her. The grandmother’s perspective is crucial to understanding this incident, as it is clear that she did not mean to hurt the girl.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial