In Hoops, help me to understand situational irony, verbal irony and dramatic irony. Can you explain each one with an example from the book?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here are definitions of the three kinds of irony:

1. Situational irony = Actions have the opposite effect from what was intended

2. Verbal irony = Words used by a person to convey an opposite meaning. A person says one thing, but means another

3. Dramatic irony = A contradiction between what a character thinks and what the reader knows to be true.

  • Situational irony example:  Lonnie goes us to the third floor of the building where he lives and tries to see the clock at the liquor store. He cannot, but he notices the manager standing right against the shelves in an abnormal manner, and also realizes the driver of the truck is inside, so he rushes down the stairs and hurries to the back of the truck, stealing liquor out of it, figuring he can sell it on the street. However, as it turns out, the police come, some windows are shot out, and "everything is back to normal."  Lennie enjoys watching all this until he realizes, ironically, that

...everybody on the block had Scotch, and everything else now, and I wouldn't get nothing [sic] for mine. (6)

  • Verbal irony example: Later on, Lonnie decides to shoot some baskets, so he goes to the court in his neighborhood. Because he is so preoccupied, he does not notice someone lying on the court until he is nearly upon him. Lonnie yells at him to get off the court, but the recumbent young man just sing-songs, "Your feet's too big," which is the title of an old blues song. When Lonnie repeats his order to get off again, he kicks at the "cat." Still, he lies there. Finally, Lonnie grabs him, only to find himself faced with a "blade." Obviously, the other youth was toying with him by singing the old blues song, and had much different intentions to his words. 
  • Dramatic irony example: Lonnie believes that the scouts from big schools are interested in him, and when one of them gives him twenty dollars for the phone call to him, he believes the scout is very thoughtful. He tells Cal, "He [the scout] just gave me the money for nothin'." (57) ---Most readers would know that the scout had some ulterior motivation.
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