To Da-duh in Memoriam

by Paule Marshall

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What is the tone in "Da-duh in Memoriam"?

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The narratorial tone in "Da-duh in Memoriam" is personal and somewhat distant at the beginning of the story but changes to less personal, more factual and is at a greater distance at the end of the story. The narrator's voice is that of a nine-year old girl going to Barbados to meet her grandmother and see a sugar plantation for the first time. The narrator is actually an adult at the time of the telling but she is speaking from her long distant nine-year-old self as she recollects the events in the story. She is personally involved but her emotions are distanced and she sees emotional events as through the eyes of an outsider to the island of Barbados.

At the end of the story, the narratorial tone switches as the narrator and her family leave Barbados for America. The narrator tells the events surrounding the emigration from Barbados through the voice of her adult self and steps back even further from emotional involvement while providing more factual information. In the last paragraph, a new tone of regret and guilt enters the narrative along with a lessening of the distance as she reveals her emotional ties to past events.

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