What type of irony is being shown in "The Life You Save May Be Your Own"?

There are three types of irony shown in "The Life You Save May Be Your Own." There is visual irony in Shiflet looking like a crooked cross, verbal irony in many of the exchanges between Shiftlet and Mrs. Crater, and situational irony in the arc of the plot, which is Shiftlet outwitting the woman who thinks she can take advantage of him.

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In the opening scene, Shiftlet looks up at the setting sun with his arm and stump raised; the narrator describes the image as "his figure formed a crooked cross." This is an example of visual irony, a technique not typically found in prose. It is ironic because of Shiftlet's lack of morality. It is also ironic because he presents himself as a savior to Mrs. Crater and Lucynell when he will actually bring them pain and loss.

There is verbal irony in an early exchange between Shiftlet and Mrs. Crater. Regarding her handicapped daughter, Lucynell, Mrs. Crater tells Shiftlet that she "wouldn't give her up for nothing on earth" or "a casket of jewels." In actual fact, she trades her for the cost of a few car parts that Shiftlet later wants. In another example of verbal irony, Shiflet calls the broken-down and impoverished farm a "plantation." It is grandiose praise that he uses more than once to try to inveigle Mrs. Shiflet into giving him the car and money.

Shiftlet describes himself as...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 901 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on May 5, 2020
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