Lines 1–12: How is the first sentence of the excerpt ironic? What is the author really trying to say?
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Are you referring to the first sentence of the novel?
The line is, They called him Moishe the Beadle, as if his entire life he had never had a surname. I think that the irony is that, although he is not given a surname, Moshe is a very important character. The rest of the town dismisses him as an old eccentric man. He is actually the one person that warned them about impending danger. The people in the town did not listen until it was too late and the Nazis came.