Carnal Knowledge and Irony

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T. Coraghessan Boyle uses irony in his short story Carnal Knowledge, which gives it a humorous tone. The way the narrator reacts to ironic events shapes our understanding of both him, and the meaning of the story as a whole; although humans can adapt to their surroundings to get want they want, they will always return to their original basic set of morals and standards. The first use of irony is arguably the most humorous, which foreshadows the ridiculousness of the narrators actions throughout the story. It also defines the narrators desire for female acquaintance. He wanted a female so badly, not a divorced mother in her thirties, that he would do it seemed almost anything to get one. If it was not clear when Alena’s dog Alf, peed on him and he didn’t care, then it is even more clear when he decides to be a vegan, like her. If you had taken work off to spend a day alone on the beach and a woman’s dog walked over and peed on you, don’t you think you’d be angry at her? As a reader, we expected him to be angry, and when he wasn’t. It was clear how badly he wanted to be with her, and that he wouldn’t stop at much to achieve his goal. It didn’t take Alena long to rope the narrator into her lifestyle. In fact, it took her one night. The next morning he was up protesting with her and her friends. That is, until he got knocked out. Yet, this didn’t phase him. First he gets peed on by a dog, next he gets knocked out. for a guy who grew up eating meat, this is where one should wonder if this girls really worth it. After the narrator put his life on the line a third time when he released the turkeys, Alena informed him she was leaving for a month with Rolfe to do more of her animal rights activist activities. Talk about irony! He put his liberty and safety on the line for her, and she left him. After all that, everything he put himself through to be with her, all of the “changes” he made to his thought. At the start of the story, he was a normal, meat loving American,...
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