I used to have a snarky reply for every question. When I was a teen, my mother used to ask why I was so “smart-mouthed”. When I was college-aged and in a group of friends I considered to all be equally intelligent, I would let the sarcasm fly. I knew they would “get” it.
Looking back, I don’t know if I was eager for the laughter (even if it was only my own), or if I was guarding my emotions. Can’t get hurt if they think you don’t care, right?
But recently, I’ve noticed that I’m not as off the cuff as I used to be. The sarcasm comes out when I’m irritated or tired; it’s reserved for those special moments when I’ve been pushed too far.
When Dellani first spoke to the Cereal Authors about posting on sarcasm, I thought it would be easy. On the contrary, I’ve found myself at a loss lately. Thinking on it, I tried to trace back to where I had lost my everyday sarcasm. I believe I tempered it when I was raising my son. (There is only so much witty, sardonic banter one can throw at a five year old before it just sounds cruel.)
As my son developed into a teenager, I let it creep back and he seemed to take to it like a duck to water. Now, he’s the smart-mouthed one. (Maybe it’s a teen thing!)
In looking for examples of sarcasm in my writing, I’ve come across the conundrum of: Is this sarcasm or is it irony?
So, I thought I’d try and work that out this month, and in doing so, found that it is not a situation of Sarcasm vs. Irony. It is rather a hand in hand relationship.
Dictionary.com describes Sarcasm as “irony
It is usually delivered through dialogue or tone. Now, a person’s tone is somewhat difficult to convey in a literary piece without actually using a descriptive speech tag like “he said in a mocking tone.” (A bit subtle, don’t ya think?)
Irony has one definition that is just as vaguely symbiotic: “”
However, irony can be more situational and punctuated by the use of sardonic, biting dialogue. And with its second definition: “an
There we go, as clear as day. A big, bright, sunshiny day.
For a crude example of the two, I came up with a situation in the blurry haze of the morning. Say that there are two characters riding an elevator together, and one guy passes gas. The other notices and remarks, “Nice. Thanks. We needed an air-freshener in here.”
Now, if that same gassy character is lying in bed, lets one fly, and then flips over in his covers and essentially Dutch Ovens himself. (That is not only karmic justice, but on the ironic side.)
I warned you it was crude. I’m not sure where I was going with this article, but it sprang out of a contemplation of myself. Like I said, I used to wield sarcasm in almost every social situation when I was young. I used it to not get too close or appear too vulnerable to those around me. One definition of irony rang true to me on this point. “
Detachment from an emotion.
Yes, there it is.
That is what drives the sarcastic banter among several of my main characters. Especially those that have the most to lose by admitting their true feelings or having those feelings exposed. Sarcasm is their shield, as it was mine. (And still is on many occasions.) It is an essential element in them, their way of dealing with their world. I cannot picture them without it. And, I don’t think I would want to.
Just a musing for this month, as I approach the Half Century mark in my life, that I thought I would share.