Study Guide

A Confederacy of Dunces Tough-o-Meter

By John Kennedy Toole

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(5) Tree Line

A Confederacy of Dunces is a very silly book. You do not need to be especially sophisticated or high-brow to get it, and it's filled with slapstick and burping and people insulting each other. So if you laugh at people burping and being attacked by parrots, you will find something in this book to enjoy.

On the other hand, there are tons of characters running through this book's convoluted maze of a plot, a fairly advanced vocabulary (much of it used in the interest of elaborate insults), some dialect that can be tricky to follow, and glancing allusions to everything from Doris Day to Boethius.

In short, if you laugh at flatulence, it's got flatulence. If you laugh at Boethius, it's got Boethius. If you laugh at Boethius with flatulence, well, you're in heaven. It's a book that'll meet you wherever you are. So we've rated it right on the middle of the Shmoop tough-o-meter, to show that you can read it looking up to the intellectual heights or down into the gaseous gutter, whichever you prefer.

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