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The danger often facing authors of satirical works is that if the audience is not discerning enough to get the joke, the piece may end up (i)____ the behavior it was trying to (ii)____

Blank(i)

reinforcing

depicting

elucidating

Blank(ii)

conceal

support

ridicule

My answer is depicting and conceal.

Others said reinforcing and ridicule. What do the two words mean in the sentence then?

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    Your interpretation "kinda" makes sense, but unquestionably that's not what was meant. The right answer is as others have told you - reinforcing + ridicule. Logically, if the comedian starts talking about some behaviour (with intent to mock it), he's hardly concealing it, is he? What your text means is that if a dumb audience member doesn't get the joke, he may think the comic is endorsing the behaviour, which may reinforce his erroneous idea that the behaviour is in fact acceptable. Commented Jun 9 at 11:24
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    As when Jonathon Swift proposed that the Irish could solve their potato blight famine by breeding children for food. Obviously a joke, unless someone is so dumb they go down the local orphanage looking to buy a fat child for Sunday lunch! Commented Jun 9 at 11:30
  • @FumbleFingers - I'm thinking also of Warren Mitchell, who satirically played an ignorant racist bigot in a UK TV sitcom, only to find himself cheered in the streets by skinheads, builders, taxi drivers, white-van-men, etc. Jonathan Swift was a bit of a weirdo and no mistake - greatly obsessed with defecation, I read once. One of my favourite writers, all the same. Commented Jun 9 at 22:02
  • The British novelist, writer, and painter, Percy Wyndham Lewis (whom the poet T.S. Eliot called "the greatest prose writer of my generation") ran into the issue where some readers did not understand that a work was satire. Some of his books have been removed from library shelves.
    – TimR
    Commented Jun 9 at 22:40
  • @MichaelHarvey: Alf Garnett wouldn't have been funny (and engaging) if he hadn't reflected at least some part of "us" at the time. I wasn't aware of the 1968 movie Till Death Us Do Part until I came across it a couple of years ago. Brought tears to my eyes, so it did! Commented Jun 9 at 22:59

1 Answer 1

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Start with the idea that satire ridicules something. This may be by exaggeration, such as H. C. Andersen's The Emperor's New Clothes ridicules conspicuous consumption.

The goal of ridicule is to point out a foible, and convince others that the situation needs to be changed. However, someone not understanding the errors shown might repeat them, i.e., reinforcing the flaw.

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