Hole in the Sky

by William Kittredge

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Is Hole in the Sky a satire?

Quick answer:

Hole in the Sky is not a satire but, rather, an introspective and earnest memoir about Kittredge's life and family.

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Generally, satire uses humor, exaggeration, or irony as a way to reveal the faults and shortcomings of people, institutions, and so on. In his book, William Kittredge is critical of his family and himself. He discloses his issues with alcohol and sex. He tackles the problems that developed within his family in the Great Basin territory. However, Kittredge does not issue his critiques in a comedic manner. Kittredge's memoir deals with themes like history, identity, and reality. His sober and introspective prose reflects the weightiness that he applies to these topics.

Sometimes, certain scenes might come across as satiric or over-the-top. Kittredge includes an “interlude” that touches on a particular Thanksgiving dinner when Kittredge was a child. Kittredge recalls this specific Thanksgiving because of his uncle Hank. At the dinner, Uncle Hank takes out his false teeth. Kittredge sees the teeth and starts to cry.

Kittredge’s great-uncle could seem like a caricature. He’s an alcoholic with a “whiskey beard” and false teeth. Yet Kittredge treats his great-uncle seriously. He’s empathetic and remorseful. Kittredge blames himself for crying and creating a scene. He expresses his wish that Uncle Hank was still around so that he could talk to him. Kittredge’s heartfelt presentation of Uncle Hank matches the sincere tone of his memoir.

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