Irony In To Kill A Mockingbird

What are some ironic situations in the novel "To Kill a Mockingbird"?

Expert Answers
Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Irony" is a literary element which describes a discrepancy between what a character says or does and what he or she means.

There are numerous instances of irony in Lee's novel. For example, the primary instance of irony is the farce of Democracy and Scout's having to recite the words "WE ARE A DEMOCRACY," with her class at the orders of Miss Gates. The demand is ironic because Scout has just witnessed an innocent man be both convicted of a crime he did not commit and then murdered for not believing in the appeal system. Justice and "democracy" are revealed to Scout as flawed, so this forced recitation is especially ironic:

"Now class, say it all together, "We are a democracy."

We said it. Then miss Gates said, "That's the difference between America and Germany. We are a democracy and Germany is a dictatorship. Dictator-ship," she said. "Over here we don't believe in persecuting anybody. Persecution comes from people who are prejudiced. Pre-ju-dice," she enunciated carefully. "There are no better people in the world than the Jews, and why Hitler doesn't think so is a mystery to me...When you get to high school, Cecil, you'll learn that Jews have been persecuted since the beginning of history...It's one of the most terrible stories in history."

How ironic that Miss Gates doesn't see the prejudice and history of persecution in her own country.

princess312 | Student


Miss Caroline Fisher- She tells Scout to tell her father to stop teaching her how to read. Usually teachers are supposed to encourage the children to learn how to read, however this is not the case.

Jem- Plenty of times in the novel Jem complains that Scout is a girl. This complaint is ironic because Scout is a girl.


 one i thought of myself is Lula

Lula- Lula is racist towards the white children in a black community. This is ironic because it's those times where white people were mainly racist towards black people. 

mjaaaz | Student

I guess you could also use the time when Miss Caroline is teaching the children using the 'Dewey Decimal System' where it is meany to be Active learning.... for Scout and the rest of the class, it is passive and boring- they learn nothing!
Also, when Scout tells Miss Caroline that she already knows how to ready, she says: 'Now tell your father not to teach you any more. It's best to begin reading with a fresh mind'.  Miss Caroline isn't praising Scout, but discouraging her from further learning.  She hasn't been taught how to deal with students who are more capable than others (Scout).

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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