What 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 seem to mind them, such as watching bloopers and the birdfeeder. With these little changes in culture she will adapt to the new habitat in which she is living.
The similarity in “New York Day Women” is a little easier to understand because it happens throughout the entire story. In the story “New York Day Women” the mother walks down the street in Brooklyn while her daughter is following her from behind. The mother seems to have a routine she follows everyday. One example of the mother embracing a new culture is when Suzette is trailing behind, and notices that she stops at the vendor on the side of the street and orders a frankfurter, which is an American meal to most people.
Another example, of accepting a new culture would be the argument of the taxi drivers in front of Carnegie Hall, which is very common in New York to have happen. So she sits and waits until the argument is over. The mother’s reply was, “In Haiti when you get hit by a car, the owner of the car gets out and kicks you for getting blood on his bumper.” These are examples of the similarities between the relationships in “New York Day Women,” and “Who’s Irish?”
There are also many differences in the mother-daughter relationships of these short stories. The first difference was how the two daughters acted towards their mothers’ old traditions and customs. The fact that Suzette was curious about the mother’s customs and wanted to know more about it made the story “New York Day Women” a little more articulate. In the sense that I could tell that Suzette knows her mother very well, and will not stop being curious about her mothers traits. For example, in “New York Day Women” the Suzette follows her mother around the streets of New York. She doesn’t want to be seen by her because she is trying to see what she is does in the daytime. This curiosity leads Suzette to learn how her mother adapts to the city life. On the other hand, in “Who’s Irish?” Nattie does not really care what her mother’s traditions are. She only cares about the new way a child should be treated and the way an American acts.
This leads to confusion between Nattie and her mother because both are trying to force different customs and cultures Sophie, the daughter of Nattie. Also, in the end, Nattie is so distant from her mother that she rarely goes over to Bess’ house to see her. The second difference between these two stories would have to be the relationships between the two families. In “New York Day Women” the mother-daughter relationship is very close. Just the fact that the Suzette went to follow her mother to learn her customs is loving, but to have almost every sentence begin with “My mother” is enough evidence that there relationship is close enough to make the family in “Who’s Irish?” look chaotic.
With this kind of relationship between them their mother-daughter relationship the love will never end. However, the mother-daughter relationship in “Who’s Irish?” is horrible. The mother loves her daughter, but she can’t show it to Nattie because she doesn’t want to let go of her traditions. This leads to the physical abuse of Sophie and aggravation from Nattie, which would head the relationship in a downhill pattern. The families portrayed in these two stories depict very different mother-daughter relationships.
In conclusion, the relationships between mothers and their daughter can vary just as the tides of the ocean. The mother-daughter relationship amongst different people can be the same, but also very different, as seen in the short stories, “Who’s Irish?” and “New York Day Women.”. However, in the end family relationships will prevail in good standing, and the love that was always there will rise in the hearts of the families and all will be won in the fight for togertherness.
Courtney from Study Moose
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