Isn't it Ironic?
July 19, 2013 8:14 AM   Subscribe

Looking for a short story, in which an elevator figured prominently, used to demonstrate literary irony in a gifted-talented/advanced placement middle school class.

For reference: I attended four different schools in four different parts of the U.S. between 6th and 10th grades in the early 1980s. I was enrolled in G/T, AP, or the local equivalent of "working above grade level classes or schools in all of them. In one of them, we read short stories designed to illustrate specific literary devices.

I am trying to recall the one used to illustrate irony. It had something to do with an elevator, a power failure, and death. It would be an older American short story (say, mid-40s to mid-60s) and it was an elevator in a private residence. I think it had something to do with a house being closed for the season and probably familial tensions. Certainly someone in it is unlikeable. It was not long, if I'm remembering correctly--the sort of story that if you held the book flat in a copier, you'd fit the whole thing on 4-5 pages.

I've thumbed through lots of short story anthologies over the years looking for it, and I've never seen it, so I'm not sure it's a particularly revered story or even if the author is still well-known and read. I don't know if the story was typically taught in U.S. middle school literature classes or if it was a quirk of the programming at the school I attended.

I know there are similar motifs in good movies (Elevator to the Gallows) and bad ones (Kitten with a Whip), but I am reasonably certain that I'm not conflating the trope with my memories of this class. I could be wrong.

It's a long shot, but maybe one of you knows it?
posted by crush-onastick to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It is Roald Dahl's The Way Up To Heaven?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:20 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Why, yes, yes it it. Thanks!
posted by crush-onastick at 8:54 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

As a side note, I've always assumed the Dahl tale was in some way inspired by the (likely apocryphal) story of the servants trapped in the Chiclets Mansion.
posted by redsparkler at 10:28 AM on July 19, 2013

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