Jean Hunter
Jean Hunter asked:

I've just been checking out discussion questions for this book on various websites. Please please can someone help me with this one! "Words are water in this city. One drop of rumour could drown us." says Marin. Discuss the irony of this statement. I think I need help with the concept of irony! Is it the same as sarcasm? Is she really saying this in an 'as if' sort of way. Thanks.

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John No, irony is not the same as sarcasm; rather stating a `fact` that you are unaware of or that becomes true in another sense to the one you meant. In this case Marin thinks she means the statement in a metaphorical sense - but, in fact, what she states is precisely what would happen to her brother Johannes. He would literally be drowned as a result of the words that were used against him. Hope this helps, John.
Ellie if you know Amsterdam, you get the metaphor. Amsterdam has an abundance of canals rather than streets, and the threat of devastating floods due to storms was a big concern. The threat of drowning was also just in front of your doorstep. - Still is today. The Netherlands lie below sea level and only in modern times have the Dutch been able to contain the ocean. It helps to be familiar with the history of the Netherlands, and the 1600's in Europe in general to enjoy the novel.
P Malicious gossip can drown the innocent.
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