The basic irony presented in "Once Upon a Time" is that the author herself does not believe in having to write a fairly tale. Gordimer opens her story with a statement against having to write a fairly tale, yet ends up doing so. The creates a natural irony between what Gordimer says she is going to do and what she actually does. An event on a smaller level of irony is that she is woken up by some strange noises at night and in order to go back to sleep, she composes a short story that is anything but relaxing and actually would cause more worry and consternation than the ability to resume sleep and relaxation. Finally, an irony in the frame story is that Gordimer wakes up, she thinks of the most dreadful things that could awaken her in terms of burglars, outside threats, and the looming crimes from the exterior world. Essentially, she allows her fears to run unrestrained causing the most dreadful of thoughts to emerge. Yet, she possesses the capacity to rationally sort out these events and discovers that the cause of the sounds she hears are the floor boards creak because her hardwood floors are old and makes sounds. This is ironic because the same capacity for rationality and examination of her fears is exactly what the family in the story needs and so desperately lacks as their fears run completely astray in their attitudes towards the outside world. What the author demonstrates, her characters lack. This is ironic to a certain extent because writers usually compose characters that possess qualities that the authors lack, and in this story, it is the other way around.