Story of Your Life

Story of Your Life Irony

Vacuuming (Verbal and Situational Irony)

"'That's right,' I'll say. 'Thirteen years ago I knew the carpets would need vacuuming around now, and having a baby seemed to be the cheapest and easiest way to get the job done. Now kindly get on with it'" (92).

In this scene, Dr. Banks is arguing with her daughter. He daughter has just accused her of giving birth to her "so you would get a maid you wouldn't have to pay" (92). The passage above is Dr. Banks's response. She is using sarcasm, which is an example of verbal irony. She is saying one thing, but we know she actually means the opposite and considers her daughter's comment to be completely ridiculous. The exchange also contains a subtle streak of a deeper, situational irony: since Dr. Banks can see the future, there is a sense in which she did know, thirteen years ago, that they carpets would need vacuuming and that her daughter would be doing it, and so her daughter's accusation contains a certain truth, though of a different kind than she knows.

"Step Right Up" (Verbal Irony)

"Gary held open the tent flap and gestured for me to enter. 'Step right up,' he said, circus barker-style. 'Marvel at creatures the likes of which have never been seen on God's green earth.'

'And all for one slim dime,' I murmured, walking through the door" (96).

This passage constitutes verbal irony in which something is said for comic effect. This moment lightens the mood of the scene—Dr. Banks is coming into contact with the heptapods for the very first time. This moment of verbal irony starkly contrasts the eeriness of this moment. Additionally, Dr. Banks and Dr. Donnelly joke that the aliens are circus "freaks"—something which is seen as bizarre but unquestionably human (or at least created on this earth).

"What a comfort that is" (Verbal Irony)

"'No, you most definitely will not,' I'll say.

'Relax, Mom. He'll never know, we do this all the time.'

'What a comfort that is'" (102).

In this passage, Dr. Banks uses verbal irony when speaking to her daughter. Her daughter has come up with the plan to talk about her mother's date while the date is still there by disguising what she says as comments about the weather. Dr. Banks asks her daughter to please not behave in this way. Her daughter convinces her it will be fine, and Dr. Banks uses verbal irony to indicate that she is not completely convinced. She says that it is a "comfort" that her daughter does this all the time, but she actually means the opposite.