#8. Tone it down a bit, please!

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charlotte danielson model for teaching tone in literature teacher lesson plan

Image: iClipart

If you’ve stumbled accross this blog, let me ‘splain. No. Let me sum up. We’re reading classic novels. Every Tuesday through Friday, we make comments about our novel, in response to a literary challenge.

Today’s literary challenge deals with TONE. And no, I don’t mean the sound that comes out of a trumpet. I’m not talking about your abs either. I’m talking about the tone of a literary work.

Need help remembering what literary tone is? Try one of the links. Wikipedia’s full of good info.

For today’s challenge:

  1. Name the title and author of the classic novel you’re reading.
  2. Quote a passage from your novel and explain it’s literary tone.
  3. Mark this page in your novel with a sticky note, so you’ll be able to find it again later.
  4. Specify which words in that passage offer context clues about the tone.
  5. Explain how those words help create the tone.
  6. Watch for changes in tone as the novel progresses, since we might get another question about tone later on.

Want an example? Here you go:

  1. My novel is Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.
  2. “[Flint] was the bloodthirstiest buccaneer that ever lived!”
  3. I found that quote on page 49.
  4. One word that offers a context clue is “bloodthirstiest” because the idea of someone being thirsty for another person’s blood is sort of scary. Also, the word “buccaneer” means pirate, and everyone knows pirates are adventurous.
  5. So between the word “buccaneer” and the word “bloodthirstiest,” I think my book has an adventurous tone–a very exciting thrill-ride–because these words inspire fear and excitement in the reader.
  6. I’ll be ready to make more comments. If Jim Hawkins gets captured by pirates, for example, I will be able to say that the tone has changed from fear and adventure to straight fear–fear that the protagonist might die in the hands of the pirates.
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24 responses »

  1. Robinson Crusoe
    By: Daniel Defoe

    Question:What do you think about the main character’s tone?
    Answer:i think that the main character seems to be ,confused ,alone , and a bit worried its honestly hard to say.

  2. 1. I am reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

    2. Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three and twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character. Her mind was less difficult to develop. She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.

    3. On page 7

    4. Words that led me to suggest the theme was “sarcastic humour”, “reserved”, “mean understanding”, “little information”.

    5. I think the tone is a definite class distinction between men and women of the English 18th century. There is a lot of sarcasm. The men are the dominate bosses, they make there desicions without consulting the women. The role of the women is to get there daughters a husband that will provide for them, they are subservient.

    6. Ill we waiting!(*:

  3. 1.”To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.
    2.”I declare to the Lord that you’re gettin’ more like a girl every day!”
    3. Found on page 52.
    4.”Declare to the lord” and “girl”.
    5.I choose “…declare to the Lord…” because Jem(her brother) was swearing to God that it was true. And when he said “…girl every day…” he meant that she was being annoying or not keeping their secrets or not joining in with him and Dill.

  4. 1. The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
    2. “We accordingly proceeded to the manufacture of our plates and dishes. I taught my son how to divide the gourd with a bit of string, which would cut more equally than a knife; I tied the string round the middle of the gourd as tight as possible, striking it pretty hard with the handle of my knife, and I drew it tighter and tighter till the gourd fell apart, forming two regular shaped bowls or vessels.”
    3. I found this on page 22.
    4. The context clues in this passage is that they manufacture all of their stuff. The father teaches his sons everything that he knows and to look at what is good in life.
    5. Through how they manufacture everything and make something wonderful out of nothing, this book has the tone of ingenuity and positive thinking.

  5. my book is Tarzan of the Apes by edgar rice burroughs

    In the book Tarzan of the Apes can you find tone in the book and what is tone?
    tone is like excitement or if someone is really scared and the auther shows it in his book. Also in my book the part that has tone is (He knew that, armed with an ax, his chances with this ferocious monster were small indeed-and Alice; O God, he thought, what will become of Alice?)

  6. 1. The novel I’m reading is Othello by Julius Lester.
    2. “I will wear the black one. It is cut low enough and tightly enough to attract his eye, yet high enough to conceal. Also, the black color will emphasize the paleness of my skin. Do you think he will find me immodest? Say something.”
    3. I found this on page 8.
    4. One phrase that offers context clues is, “It is cut low enough and tightly enough to attract his eye, yet high enough to conceal.” I think that phrase offers context clues because he wants his eye to be on her. It sounds like she REALLY like Othello and that she wants him to notice her.
    5. Based on the phrase(s) above, I think this story has a romantic tone – a love story.
    6. My page is currently marked, and I am ready for the next journal you decide to give us relevant to tone. 🙂

  7. 1. Around the world in 80 days Jules Verne
    2.”I will bet twenty thousand pounds against anyone who wishes that I will make the tour of the world in eighty days or less; in nineteen hundred pounds and twenty hours, or a hundred and fifteen thousand two hundred minutes. Do you accept?”
    3.Found on page 24
    4.What is going on right here is that Mr. Phileas Fogg is making a bet that he can travel around the world in 80 days or less.
    5.So i think my book will have an adventure scene threw out the book.
    6.I am ready. Mr. Phileas Fogg might not make it and then would have to owe the twenty thousand pounds he bet on the trip he is taking.

  8. 1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
    2. This room was chill, because it seldom had a fire; it was silent, because remote from the nursery and kitchens; solemn, because it was known to be seldom entered.
    3. I found this on page 9.
    4. Some of the words would be “chill”, “seldom”, “silent”, and “solemn”. All of these words usually mean that it is a sad or very depressing time.
    5. So between these words I think that my book has a very depressing tone.
    6. My page is marked and I am ready for the next journal that is about tone.

  9. My book is Island Of The Blue Dolphins by Scott O’dell
    1.”When I picked him up I knew he was dead.”
    2.Pg 47
    3.The tone in this part of story is sad.
    4.One word that offers a context clue is “dead”
    5.The word dead creates the tone by making it sad.
    6.As the story progresses the tone does to.She gets scared and brave.

  10. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

    “Tell me Miss Ten Boom. How can you believe in a God who lets an old man die in prison… his body forgotten somewhere somewhere in a pauper’s grave?”

    I found this on page 118

    Words that offer a context clue are prison, body, forgotten, and pauper’s grave. Those all seam really scary, and very brutal.

    The tone of this story sound like it has to do with fear and despair.

    The two women, Betsie and Corrie, have to face horrific conditions while helping the Jews escape the Germans and during their imprisonment at the concentration camps.
    Corrie witnessed the deaths of many innocent people and Betsie and her father being killed at the camps.

    The mood or tone might change when Corrie is freed from the camps, and is safe from the Germans.

  11. 1. Roots by Alex Haley
    2. As the explosion of pain bolted through him, Kunta’s upper body spasmed forward and his hands went flailing downward as if to save the front half of his foot, which was flailing forward, as bright red blood jetted from the stump as he plunged into blackness.
    I found this on page 265.
    3. One of the words in the context is flailing. It is used to show the pain that he is going through. Another is plunged because it shows way more intensity than saying he fell into blackness.
    4. So this shows very suspensful and intinsity towards the tone and it also shows how it pulls you into what horrible derastic measures were taken during the time of slavery. This quote has to do with Kunta trying to run away and the punishment was to get his foot taken off.

  12. 1.The Red Pony by John Steinbeck
    2.”The blood ran thickly out and up the knife and across Billy’s hand and into his shirt sleeve.”
    3. I found this on page 31.
    4.I think that when it says “the blood ran thickly” is when it gives the cantext clues to the tone.
    5. i think that this book has a serious tone but also a very gruesome tone because it gives you a very gross feeling sometimes but it also gives you a very serious emotion.

  13. 1.The Call of The Wild by Jack London
    2.Francois said ” Some day buck will get mad and kill Spitz.”
    3. quote found on page 56
    4. the word in the context clues is “Kill” meaning that there will be a fight to the death between Buck and Spitz.
    5. Using the “Kill” kind of tells us that this a kind of adventurous and an exciting book.
    6. I’ll be ready to do other questions about tone. For example if the dogs start to die from lack of food or something else, the book will go from and adventure book to kind of a sad book.

  14. 1.Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.
    2.”I’ll be alright,” I said. “i am not scared of the mountains.”
    3.I found this on page 45 of my classic book.
    4.A word that describes the tone would be scared saying that he is not scared of the mountains and he says this in a very serious tone. If he says he is not scared of the mountains then something scary is most likely going to happen while he is in the mountains.
    5.It helps create tone by the seriousness in he is not scared of the mountains.

  15. 1.Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
    2.And then Horace Abeville walking very straight across the lot and passed the cypress tree and across the track and up the chicken walk and into the building that had been his, and he shot himself on a heap of fishmeal.
    3.I found that quote on page five.
    4.What makes this sentence serious is that it doesn’t really say how he killed himself but it just breifly mentions it like it was nothing.
    5.I think that this shocks the reader and automatically sends a message that this will be a very serious novel.
    6. ok I will watch for a change in tone.

  16. 1.The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.

    2.”He wondered if she would pity him if she knew.”

    3. Found on page 20.

    4.What’s going on right here is Tom has fallen instantly in love with the new girl and he was wondering if she would show pity and give him a chance.

    5.So i think my book has a kind of love, adventure thing going on.

    6.I will be ready. Tom might never get the girl so the tone will change from him wanting her to show pity to him having pity on himself.

  17. I’m reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

    Question:
    Summarize the meaning of “tone”. What are two of the main character’s attitudes in your story that creates their own tone? Hehe, that rhymes(: BAHAHA.

    Answer:
    So, like Wikipedia said, tone is part of an entire story’s composition, which is like the author’s writing process, theme, dialogue, etc… And, as a part of that, it is a character or even a setting’s “mood” or “attitude”.

    Sherlock Holmes’ tone in Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Homes is kind of a mysterious tone… sometimes when he’s on to someone suspicious, he’s got a really serious tone. Count Von Kramm(not really a major character in the story so far) is really kind of quiet, but that very well might be that he’s being interrogated…(:

    • Your response to this post is my favorite so far, because you referenced Wikipedia. That helps me to know you’re really doing your research, not just guessing about literary concepts like “tone”. Good job! 🙂

      • Thanks, Mrs. Sparhawk! I’m really trying hard on my questions, and to make my answers well-rounded and a full answer.

  18. I’m reading Emma by Jane Austen.

    I think the tone of this novel is sort of like a letter written a long time ago. The novel uses a lot of question marks, more than you would see in a modern novel anyway, and there are times when the point of view shifts, even in dialog. Which is really weird. Here’s what I’m talking about:

    “Mr. Woodhouse was almost as much interested in the business as the girls, and tried very often to recollect something worth their putting in. ‘So many clever riddles as there used to be when he was young–he wondered he cound not remember them! but hoped he should in time.'”

    When Mr. Woodhouse talks here, he’s talking in the third person, which is weird. Who talks about themselves like this: “He wondered…” If you’re talking about yourself, you would say, “I wondered” so it’s very strange.

    Maybe Jane Austen is trying to seem comical by doing this. But I think she’s trying to seem laid back, like she’s writing letters to her friends or something. The TONE really reminds me of a letter.

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