Teacher Guide

A Confederacy of Dunces Lesson Plan

Introduction to A Confederacy of Dunces

With A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole both adheres to and plays with the picaresque novel form:

In its episodic structure the picaresque novel resembles the long, rambling romances of medieval chivalry, to which it provided the first realistic counterpart. Unlike the idealistic knight-errant hero, however, the picaro is a cynical and amoral rascal who, if given half a chance, would rather live by his wits than by honourable work. The picaro wanders about and has adventures among people from all social classes and professions, often just barely escaping punishment for his own lying, cheating, and stealing. He is a casteless outsider who feels inwardly unrestrained by...

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