Arturo Vivante's Can-Can: Use of Irony

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CAN-CAN

А. Vivante

“I'm going to go for a drive" he said to his wife. "I’ll be back in an hour or two." He didn't often leave the house for more than the few minutes it took him to go to the post office or to a store, but spent his time hanging around, doing odds jobs — Mr. Fix-it his wife called him — and also, though not nearly enough of it, painting — which he made his living from. "Ail right," his wife said brightly, as though he were doing her a favor. As a matter of fact, she didn't really like him to leave: she felt safer with him at home, and he helped look after the children, especially the baby. "You're glad to be rid of me, aren't you?” he said.

"Uh-huh," she said with a smile that suddenly made her look very pretty — someone to be missed. She didn't ask him where he was going for his drive. She wasn't the least bit inquisitive, though jealous she was in silent, subtle ways. As he put his coat on, he watched her. She was in the living room with their elder daughter. "Do the can-can, mother," the child said, at which she held up her skirt and did the can-can, kicking her legs up high in his direction. He wasn't simply going out for a drive, as he had said, but going to a café, to meet Sarah, whom his wife knew but did not suspect, and with her went to a house on a lake his wife knew nothing about — a summer cottage to which he had the key. "Well, goodbye,' he said.

"Bye," she called back, still dancing.
This wasn't the way a husband expected his wife — whom he was about leave at home to go to another woman — to behave at all, he thought. He expected her to be sewing or washing, not doing the can-can, for God's sake. Yes, doing something uninteresting and unattractive, like darning children’s clothes. She had no stockings on, no shoes, and her legs looked very white and smooth, secret, as though he had never touched them or come near them. Her feet, swinging up and down high in the air, seemed to...
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