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Mother Daughter Relationships In Edwidge Danticat's "New York Day Woman" And Gich Jen's "Who's Irish?"

1178 words - 5 pages

Chris BritzProf. NunezENC11026 February 2003Mother Daughter RelationshipsWhat is the "mother-daughter" relationship? I have no direct information on this because I am not a daughter. I do, however, have two sisters, and their relationship with my mother is very different when compared to the characters in the short stories "Who's Irish?" and "New York Day Women." Relationships between mothers and daughters take different forms for different people. The mother/daughter relationship amongst different people can be the same, but also very different.There are many similarities in the relationships between the mothers and daughters in the short stories, "Who's Irish?" and "New York Day Women." One similarity is that there is a foundation of love between the generations. For example, in "Who's Irish?" the mother seems to explain how she feels about her when she was a baby. "A daughter I have, a beautiful daughter. I took care of her when she could not hold her head up." The narrator seems to have much love for her daughter, and she tries to make her life better by taking care of her child. In "New York Day Women" the daughter, Suzette, follows her mother around New York City on her lunch break and comments on what she is doing. In this short story it isn't hard to see that this daughter loves her mother very much. Suzette also appears to know what her mother does in her everyday life, and with this information she embraces her mother with kindness and love. For instance, she knows that her mother shouldn't eat anything with sodium because, "she has to be careful with her heart, this day woman." Another similarity would be that the cultures of both mothers are held strongly with them, but not as strongly with their daughters. For example, in "Who's Irish?" the mother says, "You spank her, she'll stop..." which in Chinese culture it is acceptable to spank your child. However, Natalie replies, "...Oh no. In America, parents not supposed to spank the child. It gives them low self esteem..." Which contradicts the Chinese parenting tradition performed to teach obedience to the child. In "New York Day Women" the mother portrays herself as a person who keep traditions strong but not have them interfere with other cultures such as the American culture. Although the mother remains tied to her culture throughout the whole story, yet her daughter is willing to accept her ways, but not follow them. An additional similarity in the two short stories is the mothers' efforts in trying to embrace new cultures. It is hard for people of different backgrounds to understand the change in culture in a country where the culture is totally different and diverse. However, the willingness of the two mothers to accept the culture is their way of expressing their love for their children. For example, in "Who's Irish?" the mother finally accepts the culture around her at the end of the story when she moves in with Bess Shea. She encounters things of the new culture and she doesn't...

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