The short story “Who’s Irish?” by Gish Jen is a modernist work of fiction. One of the modernist characteristics found in the text is the style of language, which makes the story more realistic and which helps readers connect with the narrator’s experiences. Moreover, the story is told by a first-person narrator, which gives readers insight into an immigrant’s experience in the US.
Modernist stories use symbols to explore deeper issues. In “Who’s Irish?”, the foxhole and the stick symbolize the conflict between the narrator and her Sophie, who, in their turn, symbolize the differences between the East and the West. Moreover, “Who’s Irish?” is a modernist story which explores contemporary issues, such as racism or the immigrants’ struggle to adapt to the American society.
Works with the same theme
The theme of mother-daughter relationships is explored in the short story “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan. Tan’s story explores the tense relationship between a Chinese mother and her daughter, who deal with their differences while living in San Francisco, US. Tan’s story has common points with “Who’s Irish?”, particularly when it comes to the clash of cultures and the informal style of language.
Another story which deals with the theme of parent-child relationships is “A Family Supper” by Kazuo Ishiguro. While “Who’s Irish?” explores mother-daughter relationships, “A Family Supper” deals with father-son relationships. In Ishiguro’s story, a Japanese man is disappointed with his son who moved to America and tries to impose his traditionalist views on him. Just like in “Who’s Irish?”, the conflict between parents and children remains unresolved.