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Tone is used very effectively in the story to help the reader see the little girl’s loss of innocence.
Tone is the author’s attitude toward the subject. You can tell the tone from the diction. Notice how carefully the author chooses her words. In the beginning, the girl is very carefree. She is playing her song, messing around, picking her flowers, and very much a child.
She felt light and good in the warm sun. She was ten, and nothing existed for her but her song, the stick clutched in her dark brown hand, and the tat-de-ta-ta-ta of accompaniment.
The author’s tone makes it clear that the little girl is very carefree, and that she is innocent. The use of words like “light” and “nothing existed for her but her song” reinforce the author’s idea that her childhood is about to be invaded by what she is going to find in that field. She is not going to be a child anymore. A loss of innocence is ensuing. We can see all of that here, in the beginning of the story, where the author is reinforcing the youngness of the little girl.
When the girl watches out for snakes, the reader is distracted. We are expected a snake to be what the girl finds. Perhaps that is what she is expecting to. However, Walker is clever. Snakes are commonplace on a farm. Little girls are looking for them. They would not take away a girl’s innocence. What she does see will. The author reinforces this again with her tone when Myop sees the body, but then when she first spots it she keeps picking flowers, and then we have this.
Myop gazed around the spot with interest.
It is an interesting sentence. It shows that Myop has seen a body, and is still not overly affected. She still is only curious. It is not until she keeps looking that the author tells us, very clearly, that it is over for her.
Very near where she'd stepped into the head was a wild pink rose. As she picked it to add to her bundle she noticed a raised mound, a ring, around the rose's root. It was the rotted remains of a noose…
This is where Myop puts down the flowers, and the summer is over. The author’s tone is clear and effective. Myop went from a carefree little girl playing with a stick and looking for snakes to one curious about a body to one who is done being a little girl. Seeing the noose made things very real for her. She realized what happened to the man, and now she knows how he died, and that he was murdered in a horrific manner, and it is no longer just a gentle curiosity. Summer is over, and childhood is over, for Myop. Myop, whose very name implies myopia (short-sighted thinking), now has to face the realities of the adult world of racism, and the horrors therein.
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