Interior Chinatown

Interior Chinatown Irony

Willis breaking character after his death in Act 6 (Situational Irony)

"You open one eye, peek up at Black and White.

"Hey," Turner says. Off-script.

"I can't do this anymore," you say.

Turner smiles. "Yeah, man. I know."

After Willis's death in the courtroom fight, Willis breaks character and opens his eyes, walking off-stage. Turner says it's okay and lets him go. This is also surprising because it is the first time we've seen Turner speak in ordinary quotes instead of reading a scripted line.

This is especially ironic after how rigidly Willis's arrest conforms to the TV-show format. As readers, we didn't know it was possible to break character in this way. It's satisfying because it shows a way in which Willis has taken control of his life and gained new agency through understanding.

Introducing the concept of death in the beginning of Act 4 (Verbal Irony)


When you die, it sucks.


The first thing that happens is you can't work for forty-five days.

In this quote, real death, which is implied to be the subject of "DEATH" part 1, is revealed to be a separate concept from the kind of death that happens in Chinatown. This "death" is actually a forced hiatus after being killed off on a TV show. This verbal irony is enhanced and sustained by the ambiguity of Willis's gunshot wound, which is described similarly to how a real gunshot might be described, with blood.

Breakdown of the dramaturgy with Old Asian Man and Turner (Situational Irony)

Turner turns toward Old Asian Man, stoops down a little.

TURNER (cont'd)

(little too loud)

Do you understand me?


(without accent)

Yeah, man. I speak English.

In this quote, the facade of Old Asian Man's exoticized Asianness breaks down when Old Asian breaks character. Turner calls for the director to cut, expressing frustration more than surprise, as he and everyone else know, deep down or otherwise, that this Old Asian Man is an American citizen making ends meet by playing a stereotypical bit part on a cop show.

Willis interrogating his dad playing Old Asian Man about his missing brother (Dramatic Irony)

In order to make headway in the Case of the Dead Asian Man, Turner and Green recruit Willis to help interview the "inscrutable" Old Asian Man, who is, in fact, being portrayed by Willis's dad, Ming-Chen. The prime suspect in this case is Willis's older brother, Older Brother. Willis asks his dad about his brother's whereabouts.

This is ironic because Turner and Green don't know that all of the characters involved are related, and also do not know of the ways in which their personal relationships make the entire investigation ridiculous. Older Brother isn't missing because he committed a murder, but rather because he went to law school. Still, Willis and Ming-Chen are encouraged to play out this investigative charade as part of the story of Black and White.