Ignatius and Myrna in Toole’s Confederacy of Dunces

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The Relationship between Ignatius and Myrna in A Confederacy of Dunces

One of the most unique and strange relationships in modern literature exists between Ignatius Reilly and Myrna Minkoff, the two perceived dunces in John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces. The correspondence between them runs throughout the novel. In the beginning, Ignatius feels a certain air of superiority over her, yet she feels that he has lost touch with reality, and her suggestion begin to control his actions, as he tries to win at her own game. She genuinely cares for him and writes her opinion of how to transform his life. In three separate attempts to quiet her unrelenting criticism and suggestions, he heeds her advice, each time failing miserably and causing greater adversity for himself. Yet, at the end of the novel, in a comedic irony, she saves him from mental and physical captivity.

At the beginning of the relationship between the reader and the association between Ignatius and Myrna, Ignatius writes an egotistical letter to explain his adventures working at and grand plans for Levy Pants. Ignatius explains: "I have several excellent ideas already, and I know that I, for one, will eventually make Mr. Levy decide to put his heart and soul in the firm" (pg. 90). In Ignatius's own fantasy world, he honestly supposes that his changes will cause a revolutionary transformation of Levy Pants. He believes that his innovative contrivances can transform the forgotten Levy Pants into a Fortune 500 company, and he writes to Myrna in an attempt to clarify and reinforce his deranged world view. Reality does not allow for Ignatius's idealized rebirth of the factory, but Ignatius fails to see the actuality of the situation, and ...

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...r Myrna physically enters his life. She saves his mind and body from imminent institutionalization.

Relationships sometimes have profound effects on the people in them. At the beginning of the novel, Ignatius feels a great deal of superiority over Myrna. However, as the relationship between them develops through the novel, it causes a tremendous amount of hardship in his life, due to Myrna's critical letters to Ignatius, and his perseverance to take her advice. Like a naughty boy unable to learn his lesson and the consequence of his actions, Ignatius continues his pursuit to fulfill Myrna's suggestions on three separate occasions, each ending in horrible failure. Yet, in a ironic twist, Myrna becomes Ignatius's only escape from a life troubled by taking Myrna's advice. Her letters affect Ignatius in a manner that only her car and body can remedy.

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