The general tone of Carol Ann Duffy's tragical poem "Stealing" is different from the islands of other tones in the poem. The general tone is a narrative one: the speaker is telling a reminiscence: the time s/he stole a snowman. The general tone used by the raconteur is casual, a conversational tone: "The most unusual thing I ever stole? A snowman."
The general tone, apparent still at the end of the poem, "I stole a guitar and thought I might / learn to play," gives way quickly to other tones during the recounting of the snowman story. First comes the chilling tone of bitterness, "a mind as cold as the slice of ice / within my own brain," that gives way to the tone of steely determination, "Better off dead than giving in," that soon enough is driven through other fleeting tones to that of rage and raging despair:
I took a run
and booted him. Again. Again. My breath ripped out
in rags. ...
sick of the world.
The general tone nonetheless is casual and conversational, a good raconteur preparing to recount a good story, complete with the good ending from a bitter, cynical, crushed, heart-sick raconteur who would rather have something else to recount:
You don't understand a word I'm saying, do you?