Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Lardner’s ear for American dialect and his ability to reproduce its syntax, grammar, and cadence are as important in this story as characterization and plot. The character of Charley is revealed not only through what he says but also through the way he says it. His ungrammatical sentences, awkward diction, and malapropisms are essential to understanding his worldview. In addition, the first-person point of view is a perfect vehicle for a character such as Charley, a naïve narrator who reveals considerably more about himself than he intends.

Thus, the irony promised in the title continues throughout the story. Charley says what he does not mean; he reveals what he himself does not know. This irony softens the story’s condemnation of middle-class complacency. Through humor, Lardner suggests that although the “golden honeymoon” may not be solid gold, it is neither futile nor bitter.


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Cervo, Nathan. “Lardner’s ’Haircut.’” Explicator 47, no. 2 (Winter, 1989): 47-48.

Cowlinshaw, Brian T. “The Reader’s Role in Ring Lardner’s Rhetoric.” Studies in Short Fiction 31, no. 2 (Spring, 1994): 207-216.

Evans, Elizabeth. Ring Lardner. New York: Ungar, 1979.

Jones, David A., and Leverett T. Smith, Jr. “Jack Keefe and Roy Hobbs: Two All-American Boys.” Aethlon 6, no. 2 (Spring, 1989): 119-137.

Lardner, Ring, Jr. The Lardners: My Family Remembered. New York: Harper & Row, 1976.

Robinson, Douglas. Ring Lardner and the Other. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Yardley, Jonathon. Ring: A Biography of Ring Lardner. New York: Random House, 1977.