Irony in Short Stories Essay

Commentary:  The following is a draft of a student’s body for the Irony in Short Stories assignment.  Ultimately, the student earned an “A” on her final copy.  This example shows one stage in the process of writingthis is not a final product.  Students first drafted introductions, then drafted body paragraphs, and then conclusions.  The final product contained revising each stage of the process and putting it all together for a final grade.
     The overall thesis of the essay below examined the ways in which situational irony functioned in three different short stories.  The bold comments embedded within the text below are some of my suggestions to the student for strengthening her final.  While some revising was necessary, pay attention to the concise yet thorough way Sara introduces each story.  She is actually employing the descriptive and informative summary writing techniques we learned earlier in the year.  The summary is integral to analyzing the situational irony in each story because it is necessary to understand the entire story to know exactly what is ironic about the ending of each one.  However, the paragraphs below are not just summaries; she continues by providing quotes for support and explaining what exactly creates the irony in each story.  By doing this, she supports her argument—she doesn’t simply tell me the stories contain situational irony—she shows me by using quotes and explaining them afterward.
     Since this is a draft, notice how the first paragraph is much shorter than subsequent paragraphs.  As we continue to get our thoughts down on the page, we “warm up” so to speak, and our elaborations and explanations become more thorough and complex.  This shows why drafting is important—if you just turn in your first try, it is not going to be a complete representation of all of your thoughts on the subject at hand.  It may contain some of your initial thoughts and reflections, but it is not a complete copy…yet.

Sara Wood
Ms. Borger
5th hour – English 2

Irony in Short Stories Essay – Draft

     In “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, there is one main example of situational irony.  Situational irony occurs when the actual outcome of a story is opposite of what we expect it to be.  In the story, a village gathers to hold their annual lottery.  The people of the village seem very nervous, and we do not find out why they are until the end of the story, when the winner is selected.  Normally when we think of a lottery, we think of the prize as being money or something enjoyable.  The winner of the lottery in this story does not receive money but death as his/her prize.  Tessie Hutchinson, a wife and mother, wins the lottery and is stoned to death by her fellow townspeople.  She complains and whines throughout the entire ordeal, screaming, “It isn’t fair, it isn’t right” (31).  This type of irony can be considered situational because we expect a happy winner who receives some grand prize but what we get is a winner who suffers and ends up dead.
     In “Just Lather, That’s All” by Hernando Téllez, a barber tells the story of shaving a man’s beard.  He tells that he is secretly a rebel, and the man whose beard he is shaving is captain of the enemy awk wdg., a man by the name of Captain Torres.  Throughout the entire story, the barber contemplates killing the captain, but decides against it, saying he is an honorable barber, not a murderer.  At the very end of the story, Captain Torres says, “They told me that you’d kill me.  I came to find out.  But killing isn’t easy.  You can take my word for it” (87).  Torres knew all along that the barber might kill him.  The barber stated earlier in the story, “Torres did not know that I was his enemy” (86).  The barber had no clue that Torres knew his secret.  After all, Torres was so calm and relaxed during his shaving, why should the barber worry that he knew?  Both of these examples deal with situational irony because neither the reader nor the barber expects Torres to know the barber’s secret  as with “The Lottery” state what our expectation is and how it is disrupted by the twisted ending.
     In “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow” by Kurt Vonnegut, Lou and Emerald Schwartz live together with their many generations of family in an apartment in New York.  They take a concoction called anti-gerasone, which keeps them from looking and feeling aged wdg.  One morning, Lou and Em go to take their Grandpa Schwartz, whom they call Gramps, his breakfast.  They find his bed empty and a note saying, “By the time you find this, I will be gone” (327).  They assume he is dead, but at the end of the story, they find out that he is alive and better than ever  do they find out he is alive?  Readers do, but it is unclear whether Lou and Em know.  This is an example of situational irony because the family expects Gramps to be long gone when really the opposite is true.  Towards the end of the story, the family gets into a fight over Gramps’ will and wind up in jail cells connect this segment of summary to the overall summary of the story (summarize the entire story first THEN give your specific examples to show irony).  While in his cell, Lou says, “Cross your fingers, the lawyer’s going to try to get us a year” (329).  The family members have their very own living space in jail opposed to living in a crowded apartment and want to stay in jail as long as possible.  This is situational irony because we expect them to hate jail and want to get out, when really they love it and want to stay there.

Sara:  These look really good.  You only have a few corrections to make in your body paragraphs here.  Revise and turn in for your final with intro and conclusion.