An Uncommon Education Irony

An Uncommon Education Irony

The irony of Teddy's move

To Naomi, Teddy was an answered prayer. In her loneliness, she desperately needed someone to connect with, and then she found it, and she swore with him to never let it go. They knew they were in love forever, even though they were children. But, ironically, that was all the set-up for a terrible punchline—Teddy has to move away, and they won't be together anymore. It's as if life were being intentionally cruel, she thinks.

The irony of a sad mother

Children believe crazy things about themselves, and one of the problems of the novel is that Naomi is constantly learning how she should operate in the world, but her only models for that are seriously afflicted people who teach her a model of behavior that when she adopts it, makes her feel very sad. She doesn't know that her mother has a clinical illness—the parents are too private to explain it to her. She figures out for herself what her mother's depression really does to her, but as an adult, after Naomi had already believed she was worthless for a long, long time. The sad mother passed along an inheritance of sadness.

The irony of privilege

Jun Oko's story teaches that although Naomi's life could have been improved with more advantages, those advantages are ironically not as advantageous as the seem. Not only is Naomi lonely and disconnected from her family, she starts to notice that her friends act as if they are also lonely and frustrated about their own families. There are some problems, it would seem, that privilege cannot solve.

The irony of becoming a heart surgeon

Naomi is desperate for her father to be at peace, partially because she understands instinctually that her childhood would be a lot easier if her parents were happy people, but also because she adores her father and hates to see him scared. He is scared. He has had a heart attack. That means he can't do everything he wants to do anymore, he has to be kind to his heart. Naomi thinks, "Oh, if it's a heart problem, I'll go be a heart surgeon, then I can save you, then we'll be best friends." But actually, there is nothing she can do; her father is plagued by his own mortality.

The irony of outcasts

Outcasts often endure long seasons of loneliness. Loneliness is one of those feelings that can get infinitely more intense the longer it goes on, and for Naomi, that was a long, long time. In her friend group, she is the least-adjusted person. But, that doesn't mean her friends are well-adjusted. Ironically, the thing that keeps their friend group together most is that, they're all kind of outcasts. Even Jun Oko can be seen as an outcast, because her family's money and privilege makes it hard for her to connect with people. So how does she feel? Kind of like Naomi. Apparently they have more in common than they think.

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