Who's Irish? Questions and Answers
by Gish Jen

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In Who's Irish by Gish Jen, the story is told by an elderly woman born in China.  Her daughter Natalie was also born in China but came to the United States when she was very young.  She is now Americanized.   How would the theme of cultural differences not be told properly if told from Natalie's point of view instead of her mother's?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I think that Natalie's mother has to represent the point of view of the story in order for readers to fully understand some of the painful elements of cultural differences. If Natalie were telling the story and it was from her point of view, there would be less depth to the narrative of cultural differences.  For all practical purposes, Natalie has forsaken her cultural differences in the "melting pot" of America. She rejects much of her past in the name of being an American wife and American woman.  If the story was told from Natalie's point of view, the intricate nature of the cultural differences theme would be absent.

It is only through Natalie's mother that the theme of cultural differences is told with a richness and complexity that is accurate.  This theme reflects how part of cultural difference is not necessarily being "at home" anywhere.  Being culturally different means living at a hyphen, at a point where one has a foot in different worlds.  This is evident in the...

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