Professor Bob Dickerson
EWRT 1A ESSAY2 10/21/2013 Apply One But Not All As an old Chinese saying, “Spare the rod, spoil the child” is one of the traditional educational concepts in China, the majority of Chinese parents believe that physical punishment is an effective way to "tame" their children. However, if we are raising a child in another country, will the method of spanking children be appropriate as part of their education? A Chinese grandmother babysitting her Chinese-Irish granddaughter, Sophie, in Gish Jen's "Who's Irish?" tells us the answer of the question. Her "fierce" attitude on physically disciplining Sophie attributes to a broken relationship with her daughter, Natalie, and her family. Side effects on Sophie's physical punishment proves that the grandmother's Chinese educational ways are inappropriate in an American family. Because of the negative influence, the grandmother finally realizes that she has to change how she thinks to understand more about her multicultural families. Therefore, a Chinese grandmother's cultural complications of raising a half-Chinese kid show us that a particular case applied in one place does not mean it can be applied to everywhere. As a fierce and dominant Chinese woman, Sophie's grandmother determines she has to "help Sophie's Chinese side fight against her wild side"(189). On one hand, the grandmother assures herself that her babysitting child methods are suitable for Sophie since her own daughter, Natalie grew up to be successful. On the other hand, in order to avoid "her nice Chinese side swallowed up by her wild Shea side"(185), the grandmother's inferior attitude on Shea's family drives her to maintainChinese traditions while raising Sophie. Since " four bothers in the (Shea) family, and not one of them work" (183), the grandmother believes that Chinese are better than the Irish and their negative influence from Shea's family will affect Sophie's growth. As a result, the grandmother perseveres on using physical punishment for educating Sophie under Natalie's disagreement. The grandmother declares to Natalie that "You spank her, she (Sophie)'ll stop"(187). In the grandmother's mindset, spanking is the only way to let Sophie not to take off her clothes in the public. Her spanking not only makes Sophie cry but also scares Sophie to behave herself. Along with another "successful spank" on Sophie, the grandmother reports her achievement to Natalie that "She(Sophie) stop taking off her clothes"(189) and behaves "like a nice Chinese girl" (189). The grandmother is so happy that she proves to her daughter that she is finally able to "control" Sophie through physical punishment. A change happens when Sophie emotionally expresses outrage to her grandmother by hiding in the foxhole with the shovel full of sand. Sophie complains about her grandmother's "fierce" punishment by shouting out " I hate you, Meanie"(191). Out of the grandmother's tolerance, she applies her proven physical approach by using a stick getting Sophie out of her hiding spot. However, she does not know that her careless punishment hurts Sophie by leaving her multiple bruises and a swollen eye(190). This is a painful action that Sophie's parents can not accept. Their disappointment at the grandmother drive them to end up the babysitting services and kick her out of their home. At this point, Natalie and her husband's serious response to the grandmother's physical disciplines implies that the grandmother has screwed up her relationship with her daughter. An amount of negative effects show that the grandmother's Chinese raising-kid methods are inappropriate to apply to a half-American kid. The grandmother realizes that her physical discipline when educating a child does not work on Sophie. As what Natalie tells her, " In America, parents are not supposed to spank the child"