Lesson Plan on Applying Irony to a Novel

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The following lesson plan helps students who may be more advanced to apply the concept of irony to a novel. The novel, Gentlehands by M.E. Kerr has a surprise ending, because one of the characters does not fit the stereotype readers may assign him while reading the novel. Gentlehands teaches us that life is full of twists and turns and that as human beings, we must be accept and understand that irony is a part of life. Although the lesson plan was created and used for the novel, Gentlehands it can be adapted to use with any young adult novel or short story with an ironic ending.

This lesson will take approximately two 55-minute class sessions to complete. It is appropriate for middle through high school students.


Students will apply the ironic conclusion from Gentlehands to their own lives. The conclusion of the novel, represents a theme that people are not always who they appear to be or who we think they are.

Who is Dear Abby? The teacher will bring in examples of Dear Abby letters. Abby is a person who people write to when they seek advice about something, usually in their personal lives. The teacher will show the students the format of a basic Dear Abby letter.


The teacher will tell the students that sometimes people in our own lives change or do not live up to our thoughts or feelings about that person, just as the grandfather did in the novel. The students will write a Dear Abby letter, about someone who they know who has changed and disappointed them or a friend in some way. Students must use critical thinking skills to make a comparison between their life experiences and the theme in the novel. The students must mention in their letter, that they have been reading the novel Gentlehands, and that they have had or know of a similar situation. The students must outline their situation and the circumstances in the novel.

End Sharing

They must not only share their experiences, but they must share how they think the character in the novel feels in comparison to how they felt when disappointed by a family member. In conclusion, the students must tell Abby how the situations are ironic.