What is an example of dramatic irony and verbal irony from "A Separate Peace"?John Knowles's "A Separate Peace"

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The inscription over the door of the First Academy Building of Devon School reads, "Here Boys Come to be Made Men" certainly seems dramatically ironic in light of the narrative since Gene's character does not develop integrity at all, and Leper becomes a sacrificial victim of war.  So, too, is the secret society that the boys form ironic.  For, the "Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session" results in the death of Finny.

Another example of situational irony is the remark of Phineas about the tree in Chapter 1:  "What I like best about this tree...is that it's such a cinch!"  In reference to the tree again, Finny uses verbal irony in Chapter 2 when he tells Mr. Prud'homme,

The real reason, sir, was that we just had to jump out of that tree....We had to do that, naturally...because we're all getting ready for the war.

Of course, Finny is merely toying with his teacher and does not mean what he says.

Later in this chapter, Gene makes a remark that is dramatically ironic as he says, "There was no harm in envying even your best friend a little."

Another example of verbal irony occurs in Chapter 5 after Finny's accident when Finny asks, "you aren't going to start living by the rules, are you?" and Gene replies, Oh,no, I wouldn't do that."  Even Gene admits "that was the most false thing...."

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Verbal irony occurs when a speaker intentionally says something that he or she does not literally mean and uses words to convey the opposite meaning. In chapter 4, Gene asks Finny if he would mind if he was head of the class. Finny laughs and employs verbal irony by telling Gene, "I’d kill myself out of jealous envy" (24). Finny's comment is an example of verbal irony because he has no intention of actually killing himself and sarcastically says this to Gene as a joke.

Dramatic irony is when the audience knows more about a situation, circumstance, or event in a story than the leading characters. A good example of dramatic irony concerns the fact that nobody except for Leper and Gene knows that Gene intentionally bounced on the branch of the tree to make Finny fall, which resulted in his leg breaking. The majority of the novel concerns the fact that Finny and the boys at Devon do not know that Gene intentionally made Finny fall from the tree.

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A Separate Peace

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