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Display of Irony in Charlie Fish’s Death by Scrabble

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    “Death by Scrabble,” a short story by Charlie Fish, displays a particularly intricate design of irony in a variety of ways. Beginning with the bold statement “It’s a hot day and I hate my wife.” The irony extends from the opening sentence into the subsequent three pages of enclosed cynicism. The enunciation from the opening shows symbolism and foreshadowing for the future events that will take place as a result of each word spelt out upon the scrabble board.

    The narrator, the husband, blatantly supports his internal emotions with external actions. Spelling words such as “cheating” and “explodes” which shows how he’s feeling about his wife’s existence. The narrator uses repetition of his hatred “I hate my wife,” “I hate her,” “I really, really hate her,” to show the reader how his feelings are emerging inside of him to an extensive revulsion. The husband does not explicitly communicate his feelings to his wife by expressing to her how much he dislikes her, yet he hides it within his terms while playing scrabble.

    The narrator states how his opportunities to live his life would be increased if his wife was dead; if in some way she was excommunicated from his company. “I hate her. If she wasn’t around, I’d be doing something interesting right now.” This shows that his wife is not only a blockage in his life, but also keeps him from doing things behind her back. With her physical presence he cannot continue his affair; he cannot spread his wings beyond her existence, and cannot direct his individual life.

    As the game of scrabble builds up, tension begins to rise among the married couple. The different words used throughout the scrabble board describe emotion and a feeling among the marriage, which by definition is not going well. Situational irony comes into the short story when the husband is describing how he wants his wife to die, but instead he ends up choking on a scrabble letter and in turn, killing himself. The situational irony is an example of how what is desired does not always end up producing the preferred outcome. The narrator was not openly stating to his wife his internal expectation of her death; however, he was constantly thinking about it, giving the result of opposite desire.

    Dramatic irony is seen throughout the spelling of words in the scrabble game because the reader is aware of how each word interacts to be a counteraction of the death of his wife. The reader can see how words like “cheating,” “ready,” “explodes,” and “sweatier” can not only describe the building of tension, but also the current actions taking place within the story’s setting. As each word is played the description following describes the change in each situation showing the reader that the words are constantly turning into actions; although, this is not later realized by the husband and wife until the air conditioner collapses.

    Verbal irony is seen to small extents throughout this piece because of the reoccurring statements of demise the husband inflicts on his wife are actually true. He aspires for her departure, he aspires for her death, and he also shows how he would love to explore the world if she was not around watching. The constant use of discrepancy shows that desires are not always listed on paper, but can be internally a fighting force between right and wrong among different characters in a story.

    Discrepancy in this story is shown only between the narrator and his wife. This is because throughout the story the narrator is constantly reminding the reader of each event, using repetition to reinstate the importance of his emotions and his words. In this aspect, the narrator is not withholding information from the reader; however, he is keeping these particular emotions from his wife by speaking internally and not directly to her. Discrepancy is also used when the reader is attempting to piece together certain details to create an event or a reason behind diction, style, tone, and sentence structure. The short sentences, constant usage of punctuation, as well as the diction helps to inform the reader of each feeling the narrator is experiencing within.

    From each word, to each sentence, to each paragraph the short story “Death by Scrabble” incorporates the use of both emotion and understanding to create a sense of sympathy and consideration. The irony throughout the story helps to commute the plot itself while also giving the important
    characteristic of the debating ideals contained by the mind of the narrator. Openly, the reader is allowed the ability to decide what the character’s mind set is truly meaning; although, the bold statements used assists to outline each idea into what should be the central significance.

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