Study Guide

A Confederacy of Dunces Lies and Deceit

By John Kennedy Toole

Lies and Deceit

Ignatius lies copiously, easily, and continuously. He lies when he threatens everyone with his attorneys. He lies when he tells his mother he's looking for a job when in fact he's going to the movies. He lies about Miss Trixie's age. He lies to Myrna to fool her into thinking he's got a more exalted position in the food industry than he does. He lies by forging a letter in Mr. Levy's name. He lies to get what he wants and to make himself look better and sometimes just because he feels like it.

He also lies because lies are funny. A big part of the pleasure of A Confederacy of Dunces is listening to Ignatius telling ridiculous whoppers. If Toole cannot arrange a good round of bickering, the next best thing is a nice, fat howler. And if he can get bickering and lying together in the same passage, he is in heaven.

Questions About Lies and Deceit

  1. Is there any honest character in the novel? If so, what does their honesty get them?
  2. Is Ignatius a good liar? Does he fool people, or does he mostly get himself in trouble?
  3. Is there some lying in the novel that seems justified? For instance, is Burma Jones wrong for deceiving Lana Lee?

Chew on This

Toole, like Ignatius, enjoys spinning tall tales.

Deceit in the novel isn't necessarily seen as immoral as long as it is funny.