Irony as Depicted in ‘Rape Fantasies’ and ‘The Girl in the Flammable Skirt’
In the” rape fantasies” passage, and” the girl in the flammable skirt passage,” irony takes center stage, being featured in the comical incidences that could also make the irony in the passages go unnoticed. How do the incidences in the two passages bring out the theme of irony in a manner that compares them both?
At the beginning of the rape fantasies passage, Margaret Atwood notes that the rape title is given too much attention in the newspapers, and that makes the whole issue of rape appear as a recent problem in the society. It is ironical that the author tries to dispute the attention given to the rape title since it is a huge problem in the society that should not be ignored. Rape cases have been in existence all along hence we cannot assume that it is at this point in time, in the passage that the issue of concern is overrated. Apart from the rape issue being published in the magazines, Atwood notes that it also appears on television. She asserts that she would rather watch a movie than watch a rape related program on television. The other irony in the introduction of the rape issue in the passage is that Margaret does not like seeing the rape titles on television and magazines but she cannot do much about it. She may not like it that way but the sheer gravity of the rape issue in the contemporary society leaves her with no option but to bear with the public awareness and campaigns being put forward against rape (Atwood 3).
In Aimee Bender’s passage “the girl in an inflammable skirt,” the same situation exists where a school girl does not like what she sees on her father. The schoolgirl comes home from school for lunch when she finds her father putting on a black pack made of stone. Though she is not impressed by the idea of her father wearing a black backpack made of stones, it is ironical for her to order the father to take off the pack from his body. Under normal circumstances, it is the father who ought to order the daughter to stop doing something that he is against. Again, the school girl’s father gives the pack to his daughter without questioning why he has been ordered to remove the pack from his body. Eventually, the girl is happy that the father looks relaxed and lovely without the pack of stones (Bender, 10).
The rape fantasies passage brings out a character that is against the awareness created about rape on the television and magazines. The same character has no option but to avoid the announcements and concentrate on other issues. The same situation is reflected in the story about the school girl in an inflammable skirt; where the girl does not like the appearance of her father while in the black pack made of stone, even though she is successful in getting the pack off her father’s body. Despite being able to get the pack from the father’s body, she also does not succeed in deciding where to put the heavy backpack. At the beginning of the passage, it seemed ironical that the schoolgirl has the power to order the father, which eventually is not the case. The father later on makes a remark tells that there is a law that allows him to wear the backpack, making the girl unsuccessful in her mission. Despite the reasoning of the two characters from the mentioned passages, they are not happy as depicted at the end of their contradicting arguments.
There is a similarity of individuals’ looks and appearances in both the two passages, with Darlene in the rape fantasies story being forty-one years old; the oldest and yet she looks the youngest. The narrator notes that no one including Darlene herself would know that she is forty-one years old. It is hilarious that the narrator looks into the employees’ files to confirm the age of Darlene, who seems to be younger than everybody else. The narrator terms the data as confidential yet he manages to sneak and check the details of another employee. Again, the narrator explains to the reader that she does not expect anyone ever to meet the young looking employee since the world is a small one. It is also ironical that after discouraging readers about meeting the employee, the story teller again encourages the reader to depend on luck to meet her (Atwood 4).
Similarly, the girl in the flammable skirt story features two rats that practice the same habit yet only one is affected. The two rats ate some sweet sugar piles, and only one is complaining of pain and a bump in the stomach. The bump the size of the rat’s head is missing in the other rat’s stomach, making the rat look robust and aglow. The deathbed scene is only for one rat while the other is spared. The rat does not die though (Bender 13).
The irony about physical looks and feelings features in both the two passages with the concept of the irony being the same. One party is surprised at the looks the other party portrays yet the conditions in which they are contradict the looks. In both cases, there is also one party that seems to be suffering and wishing to have the appearance of the other party. For the happy group, it is the suffering group that seems to identify their happiness, even as they admire to be the same.
As mentioned in the rape fantasies passage, a stranger pops into the house and heads to the bathtub with a lady, but it is not considered as a rape case. The person is described as a guy the lady has never met before, but he happens to be very attractive. It is mentioned that rape is when the man has a weapon, and the woman is resisting. Ironically, many rape cases have been reported where the attacker never carried with him any weapon to hurt the lady. Rape can involve physical war when the lady does not accept the action, without necessarily having to involve the use of a weapon. The approach of the narrator of the rape fantasies passage takes us back to the beginning of the passage where the storyteller is not interested in reading rape titles in magazines and television screens. It explains the dangerous effect of ignorance in daily life. It is ironic that the narrator says things that do not make sense, and she again claims that there is nothing wrong with a little joke once in a while. It does not make sense uttering words confusing words and then claim they are all jokes (Atwood 5).
On the same note, the story of the girl in a flammable skirt mentions a lady whose skirt catches fire but she does not realize. It is the boy dancing next to her who smells the burning plastic and rolls her in the carpet. It is ironical that the girl suffers third-degree burns yet she could not sense the burning skirt (Bender 13).
The incidence of getting burnt and assuming it is the warmth of the candles can be compared to a stranger getting into a bathtub with a woman who sees the man as too attractive to resist the temptation. The lady in a bathtub is pleased with the idea of an attractive man getting into the room out of nowhere. Again, the woman does not consider that rape since the man does not arm himself with a weapon such as a knife. For the dancing girl in a burning skirt, maybe she is in an imaginary world such that she does not even sense the fire that has caught her skirt and is spreading to her thighs. It is the boy who was dancing next to her who came to her rescue, the fire leaving her with third degree burns on her thighs. In both cases, the two ladies seem to be possessed with the idea of being next to men, whom they probably they imagine being intimate. Eventually, both the girl in the burning skirt and the lady inside a bathtub suffers the consequences of their ignorance.
There is the fantasy of the men who work in the bank as short and ugly fellows with pimples on their faces, thou not all of them have the same look. Satirically, the narrator has to walk to some fellows who resemble the man with a puffy nothing face in the dark when her bank account is overdrawn for some help. No matter how they look, the narrator has no option but to seek help from them. A short, ugly guy coming up along the streets to grab her hands ought to be no issue since she also walks to the guys when she seeks assistance in the banks. It is also ironical that she feels sorry for the guys in her rape fantasies instead of being scared. Moreover, she complains of the short guy who pins her against the wall in the dark, of being heavy yet she feels sorry for the same person. (Atwood 6).
The disrespect about some creatures is in the same way depicted in the girl on the flammable skirt passage, it is ironical that the narrator thinks of the bubonic plague and rabies; diseases that might be contracted from rats, yet she boldly approaches them with food. Unfortunately, the rats do not go for the food despite all the signs that they are hungry. In this case, the narrator expects the company of the rats who eventually decline the invitation (Atwood 13).
The two narrators talk ill of those they might need their help at one point without thinking of what might happen in the future. Talking of some people and animals as ugly and carrying contagious diseases eventually turns to be ironical as the narrators come into contact with the mentioned parties at one point in their lives.
In a nutshell, the contradictory statements and situations in the passage about the girl in a flammable skirt and the passage on rape fantasies reveal realities that are trapped or hidden around conflicting ideas that the narrators express.