Looking for a literary example of tone that is from any writer.Im looking for a tone literary example. Could someone help me please and thank you. Be sure that it has to be from a writer, not...

Looking for a literary example of tone that is from any writer.

Im looking for a tone literary example. Could someone help me please and thank you. Be sure that it has to be from a writer, not just make it up

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

A short story that toys with contrasting tones is Saki's "The Open Window."  This story-within-a-story involves a frame story in which Mr. Nuttel, who is recovering from a nervous breakdown, arrives in the country for a rest at Mrs. Sappleton's house.  While Mr. Nuttel's tone is polite all through his dialogues with the niece who is sent out to entertain him while he awaits the hostess, the niece, who is ironically name Vera, is a rebellious and disrespectful child.  However, she cloaks this disrespect in her seemingly polite language as she tells Framton,

My aunt will be down presently, Mr. Nuttel,...in the meantime you must try and put up with me.

Here she means the opposite since she finds this nervous little man silly.

 After ascertaining Framton's ignorance of the area, Vera launches into a tall tale about her aunt's "great tragedy" that happened three years ago.  She uses the open window, which suggests honesty, as the focal point of the story, saying that Mrs. Sappleton's son and husband never returned from a hunting trip after going out this large window.

This rebellious child feigns sorrow as she says,

'Poor aunt always thinks that they will come back some day, they and the little brown spaniel that was lost with them, and walk in at that window just as they used to do. Poor dear aunt, she has often told me how they went out, her husband with his white waterproof coat...Do you know, sometimes on still, quiet evenings like this, I almost get a creepy feeling that they will walk in through that window--'

She broke off with a little shudder.

In complete disrespect of the soon approaching Mrs. Sappleton, Vera continues her tall tale.  When Mrs. Sappleton does arrive she asks, with dramatic irony, "I hope Vera has been amusing you?"

The only one amused is this rebellious child who has disrespectfully mocked the sensitivity of Framton and the truth of Mrs. Sappleton who explains, then, that the men of her family will soon return from hunting and come in the open window in order to keep the rugs clean.

When the men do appear, the mischievous and ironic tone of Vera become apparent to the reader, but, unwittingly, Mrs. Sappleton and Mr. Framton have been made the butt of her rebellious tall-tale. Ignorant of this joke, Mrs. Sappleton says in a supercilious tone,

'A most extraordinary man, a Mr. Nuttel,..could only talk about his illnesses, and dashed off whithout a word of goobye or apology when you arrived. One whould think he had seen a ghost [more drmamatic irony].'

Vera--whose name belies who true nature--creates another fabrication, calmly saying,

'I expect it was the spaniel...he told me he had a horror of dogs...

Humorously, Saki concludes, "Romance at short notice was specialty."

 

 

mstultz72's profile pic

mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Here's the opening passage from The Catcher in the Rye (1951):

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

Salinger's tone here is defensive and sarcastic.  His first person narrator, Holden Caulfield, begins his confession with a conditional statement "If"--as if he really doesn't want to divulge any autobiographical information about himself.  As such, Holden is an unreliable narrator.  He also ends the statement this way, "if you want to know the truth."  Holden is guarded about his family life and past, and he resents other books that require readers to sympathize with its narrator, like David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.   Because he does not want us to pscyhoanalyze his "lousy childhood," Holden is likely hiding childhood problems.

Notice also the style of the narration: it is told in a youthful voice with modern American slang.  It is colloquial and conversational, as if spoken aloud.  It is a loose sentence, full of interrupters and clauses and phrases, suggestive of high intelligence and a complex personality.

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