The incident with Hitler at the dance (dramatic irony)
While Noah is working as a DJ, he often brings his friend Hitler to show off dance moves and increase the energy of the crowd. Other members of Noah's group will cheer Hitler on by calling out his name. Because all of this normal when they perform in Black neighborhoods, Noah is confused as to why teachers and school officials at a Jewish school become very upset when he and his group cheer for Hitler. This situation is a good example of dramatic irony: Noah understands the situation to be about racial discrimination, thinking the teachers are offended by traditional African dance moves, whereas the reader knows that the teachers are offended by the reference to the man responsible for the Holocaust. Dramatic irony is created by the reader knowing more than Noah does at this point: because he has not received a very good education about the Holocaust, and because Hitler is a fairly normal name for Black South African men, he does not know that cheering for Hitler would be deeply offensive to Jewish people.
Patricia's pregnancy with Isaac (situational irony)
As Abel becomes more abusive towards Patricia, Noah hopes she will leave him. He suspects that she is staying with him because of his younger brother Andrew, and he hopes that when Andrew gets older, Patricia will no longer be bound to him. However, in an episode of situational irony, Patricia finds out that she is pregnant again, even though she is in her forties and has had her tubes tied. Patricia's pregnancy and her decision to have the child represents a plot twist in which the action deviates from the expectations held by the reader. The reader, along with Trevor, has been expecting that Patricia will become more independent and fed up with Abel, eventually leaving him. When Patricia instead ends up having another child with Abel and binding herself closer to him, the reality contrasts sharply with what the reader had been expecting.
Noah's missed opportunity with Zaheera (situational irony)
When Noah is in middle school, he develops a crush on a girl named Zaheera. He does not think she would return his feelings, so he delays telling her and works hard to build a friendship with her. He believes that only years later will he be able to tell Zaheera his feelings. However, Noah is shocked to find out that Zaheera has abruptly moved away with her family and that she had a crush on him all along. This discovery represents a moment of situational irony because the plot twist of Zaheera having liked Noah all along contrasts with the audience's expectations that she only likes him as a friend. The audience has bought into Noah's assumption that he is not the type of boy to whom girls would be attracted and that he should delay telling her all along. Despite setting up a certain set of expectations (that Zaheera does not return Noah's feelings), the plot then reveals an outcome that contrasts with those expectations (she does, in fact, have romantic feelings for him, and was hoping he would take action).
Noah being asked to pray to banish the demon (dramatic irony)
When Noah is a small child, he defecates on a newspaper inside the house rather than going to the outhouse. His mother and grandmother find the newspaper and decide that a demon must have entered the house. Alarmed, they start to pray for protection from the demon and encourage Noah to pray along with them. They particularly want Noah's prayers because they believe that his light skin and perfect English give his prayers extra power. Noah does not tell them that he is the one who caused the whole situation. This gap in understanding creates a situation of dramatic irony: Noah and the readers know that he is the one who defecated in the house, but his mother and grandmother have no idea that this is what happened. Their insistence that Noah could be the one to help them adds extra irony to the situation because it highlights that they fail to understand something which is clear to the reader.
Born a Crime Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Born a Crime is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.