Family and Personality
FROM JAMES T. FARRELL TO MARY GORDON, THE RIGIDITIES OF IRISH Catholic family life have been celebrated in fiction; from Mary McCarthy to Phil Donahue, sometime Irish Catholics have blamed their personal and emotional problems on their Irish Catholic family background and heritage. Reporter Pete Hamill even wrote an article, when he gave up drinking, in which he blamed his Irish Catholic background for the fact that he drank too much. The images of the cold, stern, demanding mother ( Studs Lonigan's mother pushed him toward the priesthood) and the weak, heavy-drinking, sexually incompetent father have become part of the mythology of American life.
Within the Irish Catholic community there is a parallel mythology-the story of the brilliant, witty, and well-meaning but wild, erratic, and heavy-drinking Irishman "straightened out" and made to "act right" by his sensible, tough-minded, long-suffering wife (and daughters).
There are assets and liabilities in the ways that various subcultures may organize their family relationships. In some Irish families, the woman, a combination of toughness and tenderness, provides a superb androgynous model for her daughters and sons and achieves a