Fiction and Suicidal Laughter

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In the short story, "The Concert Stages of Europe," Jack Hodgins establishes the tone by utilizing the aspects of suicidal laughter and situational irony. These help to keep a light and funny attitude throughout the story. Clay, the narrator, does not take himself seriously and uses the story as a way to poke fun at himself and his unsuccessful attempt at becoming a world-famous concert pianist. Throughout the narration of Clay's ill-fated attempt at becoming a concert pianist, Hodgins frequently makes use of the suicidal laughter aspect of humor. Clay repeatedly makes fun of himself and makes light of the whole situation. He jokes about his physical appearance at the time of the recital, when he was just thirteen years old: I don't know why people gave me their money. Pity, perhaps. Maybe it was impossible to say no to a six-foot-two-inch thirteen-year-old who trips over his own bike in front of your house, falls up your bottom step, blushes red with embarrassment when you open the door, and tells you he wants your money for a talent contest so he can become a Great Artist (Hodgins 402). In these three lines, Clay does not hesitate in the least to offer his true feelings about himself during that time in his life. He is good-natured about the whole fiasco and is not embarrassed to admit how he acted during his adolescent years. Another instance of suicidal laughter occurs when Clay is explaining how he answered the questions of Richy Ryder, the emcee of the recital. Clay pokes fun at his nervousness and the fact that he was extremely tall for his age. "And again ‘yes,' because I realized that not only had my voice come out as thin and high as the squeal of a dry buzz-saw, but the microphone was at least a foot too low. I had to bend my knees to speak into it" (Hodgins 405). This further establishes the tone of the story as being light-hearted. Clay does not hold back at making himself the butt of jokes within the story. He offers himself up for the readers to...
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