Life and Times of Michael K

Life and Times of Michael K Irony

Verbal/Dramatic Irony: War and Money

K becomes very frustrated with a soldier who starts going through his personal effects and takes his money. He asks, "What do you think the war is for? ... For taking other people's money?" (37.) This could be verbal irony if we accept that K knows exactly what the answer to this question is and that he is trying to guilt the soldier. It could also be dramatic irony if K is asking his question in all sincerity since the reader and the soldier know the answer to that question: war is typically about money and power.

Situational Irony: K and the War

When K is in Kenilworth, the Medical Officer comes to realize that he is not who he is supposed to be, at least according to the authorities. He marvels at K: "He is locked up as an insurgent, but he barely knows there is a war going on" (130). There is also situational irony in the sheer ridiculousness of this reality: how is it that a man like K could be considered an "insurgent" when he is not at all connected to what is going on?

Dramatic Irony: The Visagies

When the Visagie grandson comes to the farm, K lies and says he is working for them. As the reader knows he is not, there is dramatic irony in subsequent scenes in which the grandson asks questions about his grandparents and their employment of K.

Situational/Dramatic Irony: Michaels' "Story"

The Medical Officer remarks wryly that there is probably more truth in the story he and Noel concocted about Michaels than in anything Michaels would tell officers. There is irony here not only in the Officer's tone, but also in the fact that they are living in a reality in which someone who tells the truth—someone who is a simple, peaceful creature—is considered a covert renegade operating a food supply chain for roving mountains gangs.