Opal's mother once told her that “Spiders carry miles of web in their bodies, miles of story, miles of potential home and trap. She said that’s what we are. Home and trap” (163). The irony of the same object— the spiderweb—being both comfort and danger applies to the lives of many of the characters in the novel. For example, Blue goes to her tribe in Oklahoma in search of a home, only to find herself trapped in an abusive marriage.
Self-destruction (Situational Irony)
Perhaps the central tragic irony of this story is that the Native American characters, victims of white violence for generations, suffer the narrative's climactic massacre at the hands of other Native Americans, not whites. This suggests that colonial violence is so pernicious as to have deeply infected Native American communities on an intrinsic level.
"Whitesplaining" (Dramatic Irony)
There is a bitter irony when the white candidate with whom Dene is competing for a grant tries to explain to him the quote of Gertrude Stein that laments the deeply Native American plight of being totally robbed of a sense of place and belonging—something that a Native American would know much more about in this context than a white person.
Octavio's connection to culture (Situational Irony)
Octavio is the character perhaps most centrally behind the plot to rob the powwow, a place that represents Native culture and spiritual life. At the same time, he is deeply connected to his faith and cultural identity. Octavio is close to his grandmother, Fina, who instructs him on spiritual matters such as how to make a medicine box and how to navigate loss. He finds truth in her words, although they hurt; feeling her advice to be both right and wrong on a deep level. Octavio's appreciation for his culture is a cruel irony in the face of the violence he intends to carry out at his own people's cultural event.
There There Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for There There is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.