What is an example of irony in Rumble Fish?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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One example of irony is seen in the central theme of youthful rebellion. Rusty-James, the main character, wants to live a life of adventure and freedom, as he perceives that to be the life of his older brother Motorcycle Boy. However, Rusty-James does not understand that this sort of life leads to misery and pain; he already spends his days drinking, fighting, and skipping school, with little to show for it. He sees this lifestyle as a route to high times and respect, not burnout, pain, and bad memories.

"You know who you look just like?"

"Yeah," I said, and remembered everything. I could of been really glad to see ol' Steven, if he hadn't made me remember everything.
(Hinton, Rumble Fish, Google Books)

Throughout the book, Rusty-James tries to emulate his older brother, to varying degrees of success. His relentless pursuit of the "bad boy" lifestyle leads him to tragedy and personal loss, not adventure, and it isn't until the end when Rusty-James realizes that in becoming like Motorcycle Boy, he has lost most of himself in the process. Rusty-James's personal identity slowly erodes, and he finds that his idol truly has feet of clay.

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