Cultural and Generational Conflict in “Who’s Irish?” and “Bombay Gourmet”

The history of conflicts knows 2 easiest ways for developing a conflict, such as cultural and familial differences. The variety of contexts, in which people are always engaged, serves as the catalyst for occurrence of the new conflicts. It is often hard to find the common path for two cultures, which tend to be completely different and have nothing in common. Another issue is about the problem of parents and their children, which may be expressed by the notion of the ‘generation gap’. Gish Jen and Manil Suri depict a twofold conflict that is based on the cultural and generational differences.

In the article “Who’s Irish,” Jen portrays the story of a conflict with her daughter in light of age-related and cultural characteristics. The core issue in the scope of this conflict is her granddaughter, Sophie, or, to be exact, the problems with her raising. In this context, the reader observes the binary nature of the conflict. The author’s daughter, who was of Chinese origin, married the man from the Irish family, and their daughter, the outcome of this marriage, seems some unknown creature to Jen: “. . . Sophie is wild, Sophie is not like my daughter Natalie, or like me” (Jen). Since Gish’s daughter is too busy with her job, and Gish herself considers her daughter’s husband inappropriate for being a nanny for Sophie, the old woman has to bring up the granddaughter on her own. The misunderstanding of the Western culture might be seen pretty well throughout Jen’s narrative: “In China, daughter takes care of mother. Here is other way around” (Jen). Thus, Jen’s conflict arises between the cultural and generational differences of the two family members. To the most part, it was not too easy for her to accustom to the Western traditions, especially regarding taking care of children. For example, Jen’s daughter disapproves physical methods of punishing Sophie. However, understanding the new traditional patterns is not easy for the overage woman, though they all seem natural for her daughter.

On the other hand, in his article “Bombay Gourmet” Manil Suri shows the traditional Indian society, which is rather conservative and not flexible, using his family’s story as an example. A young Indian mathematician, who studied at the American university, got a chance to spend his sabbatical in Paris. The wind of the new culture, which was unknown to him, has captured his thoughts almost totally. To a great extend, his excitement concerned the French cuisine: “I explored every marché I could find and ate at starred restaurants I could ill afford. I learned to tell the difference between Bordeaux and Burgundy, Brie and Chaource” (Suri). The young man wanted to share this wonderful feeling and taste of the newly discovered world with his family and dilute the dense veil of spicy Thai and Chinese dishes he prepared before by the wind of the French lightness. However, his perfect idea ended up in a complete Waterloo of the family conflict: the coq au vin and the bouilla­baisse, along with the béchamel sauce and the Camembert, have not won the hearts of the people, stubborn in their conservatism. As the author puts it:“My father … chewed it once, then literally leapt out of bed and ran to the sink to spit it out. The sound of his furious gargling ensured that none of the other guests dared a taste” (Suri).Manil’s conflict with his family possesses rather cultural nature. The interference between the Indian and French culture failed to occur because of the people’s unwillingness to experience something new.

To summarize, in spite of the different origins of the conflicts, these two articles seem to convey the same message: the nature of conflicts may often be common, which can serve as a clue for their resolving.

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