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You just can't win

Hamilton, Essential Literary Terms (32-67) -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

"Cosmic irony refers to an implied worldview in which characters are led to embrace false hopes of aid or success, only to be defeated by some larger force, such as God or fate."

I saw a lot of cosmic irony in "To Build a Fire," where the narrator convinces himself that he will be able to travel through the wintry landscape by himself against the advice of the man from Sulfur Creek. As things get worse and worse, he continues to put thoughts of death in the back of his mind and pursue in his belief that he will be able to make it to meet his friends. Eventually, he is defeated by the larger force of the cold temperature. The whole story is a really good example of cosmic irony.

Comments (1)

As the protagonist might have said, it certainly was ironic.

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