Irony is a literature technique concept that is characterized by use of expressions that signify the opposite of the norms in a literature material. It is used for various purposes in a literature work. Irony can be used by authors to create humor or even enhance an emphatic effect in composition. Indeed, this technique makes literature increasingly amusing to read and understand. Therefore, the use of irony in any given literature article is important in content delivery. In the books, “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker and “Hunters in the Snow” by Tobias Wolff, irony has been widely used. This essay aims at comparing the use of irony in these two books and explaining how it applies in each of the instances of every story.
The book “Everyday Use” applies thematic irony while the book “Hunters in the Snow” uses characters’ traits irony. Both approaches of the use of this literature technique in the books are skillfully presented and their amusing nature is adequately enhanced. The thematic irony applied in “Everyday Use” involves themes such as that of dissatisfaction. The overall thematic irony revolves around the social settings established in the fiction (Stephen 22). Therefore, Walker uses irony to bring clarity to the points in the composition. On the other hand, Wolff’s book presents irony among his fiction’s character to bring a deep description of them. The main personages in “Hunters in the Snow” have been presented by Wolff using their ironical nature (Wolff 225). Moreover, such characters as Tub behave in an ironical way to his friends, Kenny, and Frank. The ironical nature of Tub creates a more descriptive exposition for defining his character.
The personages in the fiction “Hunters in the Snow” are described as ironical especially Tub and Frank. The Characters shift alliances in a proper manner. No one expects Tub to socialize with either Frank or Kenny due to his sensitive nature towards the two. However, he communicates with Frank in some instances in the book. Wolff has presented Tub in the fiction as a sensitive personality. He is much more concerned with other people’s opinion on him. Therefore, his ironical nature is clearly shown using his sensitive nature. He suspects Kenny and Frank of backbiting him. He presents a sense of not trusting these two characters (Wolff 229). Ironically, Tub goes against his attitude towards Frank and Kenny and asks Frank about the meaning of a babysitter. Tub’s sensitivity makes him to know the meaning of the term because Kenny used to laugh at Tub using it. Irony in Tub is visible through the fact that he keeps on asking Frank whom he also does not trust (Wilson & Dan 123). One would expect Tub not to ask Frank, who is not trusted by him. Therefore, Tub is portrayed as an ironical character in the fiction “Hunters in the Snow”.
Frank is also ironical whereby he as well shifts alliances. He betrays his friend Kenny with whom they laughed together on Tub’s plump nature. He repeatedly answers Tubs question on a babysitter. This is contrarily to the audience expectations whereby Frank needs to act in a weird way during his interactions with Tub but in the fiction he heartedly explains to Tub the meaning of the word without being suspicious (Stephen 44).
It is ironical for Tub to think that he has no power to fight back to Kenny and Frank’s mockeries towards him. Kenny and Frank gossip about Tub’s plump nature, and Tub ends up concluding that he is ‘fatty’ (Wolff 232). In normal circumstances, fighting back using the truth creates power within the character. Contrary to the norm, Tub does not use his power to fight back using the truth despite his sensitive and skeptical nature. In addition, his sensitive nature should have motivated him to fight back, therefore, giving him necessary power hence insisting on Tub’s ironical nature.
The fiction “Everyday Use” also has irony gimmick in it. The thematic irony in the fiction has been applied in different approaches to the norm. Mainly, the book has presented irony through the contrasting ideas of heritage (Walker 25). The fiction is based on an African setting whereby the African heritage is the subject. Dee has been used to present irony on the theme of heritage where she has been used by Walker to criticize her mother and sister for their backwardness. Dee hates this trait of her mother. Therefore, the audience expects that she will not take part in any of the cultural activities around her. Ironically, Dee has created herself a fictitious past with an African origin. Therefore, irony created the concept of African heritage. The characters in the fiction contradict their heritage leading to the thematic irony of the issue.
Walker has also presented thematic irony in the book “Everyday Use” whereby the theme of indifference is ironically presented. The characters, who pose the theme of indifference, are expected to play in line with it (Walker 37). Maggie criticizes her mother for her plump nature while she is indifferent to it. The mother’s plump nature is important to her health because the fat in her body helps in the prevention of colds to her body. However, Maggie portrays indifference to her mother’s nature and criticizes her suggesting that her mother should be “a hundred pounds lighter” (Walker 39). In addition, the indifference irony is seen when one expects Maggie to appreciate her mother’s hardworking nature. Walker describes Maggie’s mother as a strong, brave and hardworking woman who has brought up her children herself. However, Maggie proceeds and reveals the lack of appreciation of her mother through her criticisms. Therefore, the thematic irony in the theme of indifference is presented through the indifferent actions of Maggie.
The irony of the theme of indifference is also presented in the reactions of Maggie towards her mother’s way of life. Maggie upholds that the white culture should be integrated into the African culture. However, her mother opposes her daughter’s approach arguing that the white are just the oppressors who only benefit from Africans at their expense (Walker 53). Normally, the audience expects that the reaction of a mother towards a certain concept would be similar to the daughter’s. Ironically, Maggie decides not to back her mother in declining integrating with the white culture. She praises the white culture and insists that it is highly beneficial. In fact, she changes her name to Dee that, she claims, was from the early colonial periods. The nature of Maggie creates confusion and disgust to her mother. As a result of the culture rivalry between mother and Maggie, an indifference irony is created whereby the audience does not expect mother and daughter to be on different culture lanes.
In conclusion, the comparison of the use of irony in the two fictional books, “Everyday Use” and “Hunters in the Snow”, has been important in describing their contents. On one hand, the thematic irony in the fiction “Everyday Use” has created an amusing atmosphere throughout the book. On the other hand, the irony in character description in the book “Hunters in the Snow” has been crucial for clear understanding of the characters’ traits. In other words, the two fiction books have deeply applied the irony technique with the aim of bringing clarity of content to the audience hence irony serves the same purpose in both.