How are tone, mood, and character shown in "John Henry" (folk ballad) and "Mary Tired" by Marjorie Pickthall with a focus on gender? Give examples as well.
The tone and mood of "John Henry" reveals the central character's cheerful, hard-driving nature. It is male gendered in being a linear narrative focused on physical feats, competition, and heroism. John Henry draws sustenance from the adoring female gaze. In contrast, the tone and mood of "Mary Tired" is quiet and meditative, reflecting the Virgin Mary's character. It is female gendered in focusing on everyday life. Mary is content within herself and doesn't rely on applause or adoration.
The tone and mood of "John Henry" is cheerful and hard-driving, much like the man. John Henry is characterized as hardworking and physically strong. The ballad is male-gendered in that it centers around competition—his hammer competes with a steel drill—and winning:
before I let this steam drill beat me down,
I'll hammah myself to death.
This is a linear narrative with a beginning, a middle, and an end, a triumphalist narrative that is often associated with male-gendered writing. It is male gendered, too, in that John Henry depends for affirmation on the admiring female gaze. His spouse is described in condescending terms as his "cute liddle wife," and she comes
to see her brave steel drivin' man.
John Henry is also depicted as the good...
(The entire section contains 393 words.)
check Approved by eNotes Editorial