In Life of Pi, where can examples of dramatic, verbal, and situational irony be found?  

Expert Answers
tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Irony is when the opposite of what is expected happens. Verbal irony can be found in chapter 50 when Pi discusses the size of the lifeboat and how it should be able to accommodate thirty-two people. He reflects about this as follows:

"Wouldn't that have been merry, sharing it with so many? Instead we were three and it was awfully crowded" (137).

This quote is verbally ironic because with a large lifeboat that can seat thirty-two, one could logically expect to have enough space to survive with only three aboard. The fact that two of the three are wild predators changes the situation entirely because of the threat they are. Pi's comment creates an unexpected twist to his discovery that thirty-two individuals could be on the boat with him.

The next example is situational irony and easy to understand because Pi identifies and explains it explicitly for the reader:

"It was Richard Parker who calmed me down. It is the irony of this story that the one who scared me witless to start with was the very same who brought me peace, purpose, I dare say even wholeness" (162).

It is highly unexpected that Pi would be calmed down by the one companion who threatens his existence.

Dramatic irony is a bit different from situational or verbal irony because it is based off of the audience knowing what is going on in the story, but many characters do not. For example, the reader learns in chapters 17 and 18 that Pi joins Christianity and Islam. He practices both faiths while also believing in Hinduism, the religion of his country. However, Pi's parents are completely in the dark about his religious doings. In chapter 23, though, the different religious leaders find out and call a meeting with Pi and his parents to uncover the issue and solve the problem. The fact that the reader knows Pi's secret, and watch as his parents learn the news, creates dramatic irony.