“We Real Cool” is characterized by its tone of tragic irony. The term tragic irony typically refers to an effect in dramatic works, where the audience knows something that the characters don’t. In the case of “We Real Cool,” there is a similar divorce between what the speakers think about their lives and what we readers think. Throughout the poem, the speakers make a proud declaration of all their sins. They see their rebellious attitude as the source of their coolness. However, being the young and inexperienced teenagers they are, the pool players don’t have a realistic understanding of the costs of their deviant behavior. When they conclude the poem with the words, “We / Die soon,” they do so with an idealized, even romantic sense of what it means to die young. The reader, who is shocked rather than impressed by their bad behavior, cannot help but have a different reaction to the final lines. Whereas the pool players see the perfect conclusion to a rebellious life, the reader sees unnecessary and tragic deaths.