What are the ironic expressions in the story "Bontsha the Silent"?

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jmj616 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

*The actual ironic expressions are CAPITALIZED.  The regular text adds context.

* Brief comments are in italics.  

a) "There he was, stretched out straight and narrow on the snow, eyes closed, [dead]...HE DIDN'T WANT TO CAUSE THE UNDERTAKER ANY EXTRA TROUBLE."

Highly unlikely that Bontsha really chose to die "straight and narrow on the snow" in order to make life easier for the undertaker.

b) They married him off to the miller's wife (SHE HAD ALREADY GONE THROUGH SIX HUSBANDS)

A little unlikely, especially because traditional Jewish law discourages marriage with a woman who has outlived even just two previous husbands.

c) The greatest irony, of course, is the story's ending.  Bontshe Shvayg, standing before the Heavenly Tribunal, is found to be perfectly unblemished. God offers to grant him "your every wish, your every boon."  Bontsha has lived such a deprived life that he does not even know what to ask for. In the end, he requests "a warm roll with a little bit of butter every morning." 

With this, the prosecuter (the Devil) has his way, even with the blameless Bontsha.  This perfect saint, who could have had the most magnificent of heavenly portions,  will be rewarded with nothing more than a daily roll and butter.

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Bontsha the Silent

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