The Moonlit Road and Other Ghost and Horror Stories

The Moonlit Road and Other Ghost and Horror Stories Irony

The Serpent's Eyes

In "The Man and the Snake," Brayton was dismissive of the book's claim that the eyes of the serpent could hypnotize a man, but he ended up dying of a fit when the eyes of a stuffed serpent fixated on him. It is unlikely that a serpent could hypnotize a man, and totally impossible that a stuffed toy serpent could do so. Given Brayton's dismissal of the book's claims, it is ironic that he died in this way.


"It is well known that the old Manton house is haunted. In all the rural district near about, and even in the town of Marshall, a mile away, not one person of unbiased mind entertains a doubt of it; incredulity is confined to those opinionated persons who will be called 'cranks' as soon as the useful word shall have penetrated the intellectual demesne of the Marshall Advance." (35)

In "The Middle Toe of the Right Foot," there is a reversal of the normal order of things, in which those who insist that certain places are haunted are assumed to be insane. This suggests that it is so obvious to everyone that the Manton house is haunted that only those who are insane would disagree.

Mistaken Identity

In "A Holy Terror," both Jefferson and Mary mistake each other's identities. Jefferson Doman realizes the gold vein is buried under the grave of a scarred-faced woman, and cannot help but wonder if this might be his own Mary Matthews. When he tries to discern this fact, he dies in terror from having the corpse fall on him.

Later, Mary Matthews comes to the same camp with the millionaire she married, and ends up finding the remains of Jefferson, which causes her such grief and horror that she instantly dies. In Jefferson's case, he thought he had found Mary, but died; in Mary's case, she had actually found Jefferson, but she died anyway. In both cases, the characters struggled with cases of mistaken identity.

Killed by Lightning

In "Moxon's Master," the fact that the house is destroyed by lightning suggests an element of irony and divine retribution - for his attempt to usurp the creative powers of God, Moxon's house is destroyed by a thunderbolt and he is killed. As Daniel Canty puts it, the lightning is punishment for Moxon's "folly in pretending that creation was nothing but an enormous machine."