Study Guide

A Confederacy of Dunces Education

By John Kennedy Toole

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A Confederacy of Dunces is determined to be smarter than you. The book has allusions to everything from medieval learning to modern American literature to art films—you can barely turn a page without finding a shout out to some obscure historical figure or other (more over in the "Symbols" section about this).

But while the book displays a lot of learning, it doesn't seem to respect it much. The professor in the book, Dr. Talc, is an ignoramus and a cad, and Ignatius uses his education for the sole purpose of insulting people; Myrna uses hers for similar purposes. A Confederacy of Dunces wasn't written by a dunce—but it does seem to suggest that even the folks who aren't dunces are in that same confederacy.

Questions About Education

  1. Is George right to have quit school? Would he have been better off with more education like Ignatius?
  2. Who is more ignorant, Dr. Talc or Darlene? Does the book think the difference matters?
  3. How would Ignatius be different if he were less educated?

Chew on This

Education in A Confederacy of Dunces just teaches people to be crueler.

The only thing Ignatius really loves is education.

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